Monday, January 13th 2020 a University of Queensland student tragically passes away. Earlier, on Sunday a video appears on Twitter depicting University of Queensland Liberal Club members protesting a drag queen storytime event organised by the University, chanting “Drag Queens are not for kids”. Shortly thereafter #HitlerYouth and #IStandWithQueens start trending on twitter, a pigeon is occurring – but not against any political or corporation – against a young gay University of Queensland student.
“So the UQ Young Liberals decided to interrupt story time at a public library where a drag queen is reading to children only to be abused by homophobic slurs @LiberalAus. What are they doing to support the community? pic.twitter.com/dB7zXeVL7i
— CORY (@corydunco) January 12, 2020” (Since deleted tweet that started it all)
Some University of Queensland Union staff were quick to condemn the students with UQ Union President Ethan Van Roo Douglas saying “While the union endorses freedom of expression and student activism, we strongly condemn aggressive behaviour that intimidates and causes distress to children and their families,”
Many reactions were also pouring in across twitter, with thousands of people condemning the students and thousands more hurling abuse directly towards Wilson, UQLNC and anyone else seen to be supporting their actions. Whether this was through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it was clear, this was a calculated and cold pile-on by many elements of the twitter community.
During this time, even an LNP MP decided to pile on, Trevor Evans MP posted on Facebook “Today in Brisbane some ratbags held a protest about Drag Queen Story Time events that are held in Brisbane libraries. “ He continues on to say “The ratbags who protested the event wouldn’t know liberal values if they fell over them.” It was clear, even the LNP was abandoning Wilson and his friends for PR reasons – even if it was only a small hateful segment of the community that was against Wilson.
Everyone was attacking Wilson it seemed, his phone was blowing up with messages, his Facebook and Twitter were being sieged with a flood of hatred coming from the most disgusting depths of Australia. All a result of a protest where he was just trying to protect children by shielding them from being exposed to Adult Entertainment.
The result could have only been one thing. Abandoned by his community, vilified by and only supported by a small voice – who were all simultaneously having to defend themselves from this abuse too. A person, especially a young gay person, can only take so much. A victim of a torrent of abuse from tens of thousands of twitter haters, Wilson Gavin tragically died of suicide only a day later.
Doing Drag has long been hidden away in nightclubs and gay bars. It was there that the Drag Queens that Wilson was protesting earned their stripes. The one he and the UQLNC were specifically protesting was named “Diamond Good-Rim Job”. A reference to a sex act.
Really, once all the facts were laid out, it’s no wonder that Wilson and his colleagues were fighting to have this parasite removed from campus. After all, none of us want our children being exposed to adult sex acts and adult language.
After Wilsons passing, the reaction was swift. Condemnation of the Twitterati who fiercely attacked and encouraged the attacks on Wilson and his UQLNC group was sharp, with some people pledging to reflect on how they had been apart of it. Others had been far less reflective, “he got what he deserved”. Over on Facebook, the mood was mainly one of reflection, however many LGBTQ pages moderation teams were saddened and shocked to have to deal with many instances of the celebration of his death.
George Christensen, Member for Dawson, was shocked by the news of Wilsons death after witnessing the relentless bullying of Wilson. As a result, he chose to leave the twitter platform. His last message on the platform reads. “Suicide happens when Twitter keyboard warriors pile on an individual for a political protest. Twitter is broken. It’s for ad hominem attacks & pile-ons, not real discourse. And it’s aided & abetted by the media. I can’t delete the media, but I am deleting my twitter account. Bye.”
QNews, a gay news site ran a poll in the days after Wilsons death asking if “drag queens [should] be reading to kids in libraries”. The responses in the comments were very mixed, with people being abused regularly if they were perceived to be out of line from the mainstream LGBTQ opinion.
Ultimately, the poll was deleted and memory-holed because it revealed something that QNews did not want to reveal. That Australians overwhelmingly supported Wilson Gavin, and overwhelmingly were against Drag Queens being allowed to read to children in schools and libraries across the country.
Everything felt like it was against Wilson, it still does. Even though public opinion is on his side, even though Australia is on his side. We failed him.
News coverage was never kind to Wilson, and that’s why I felt like I had to write this piece. So that where he is remembered on the internet, he will be remembered, at least in some places, as the good man that he truly was.
Sadly, there will be many articles that will exist for a long time vilifying this great man. But by his friends and many, many supporters Wilson Gavin will be remembered as a hero who stood up for children in a time where many did not think that it was necessary. He will be missed by the UQLNC, His family and many Australians.
Australia lost a good man.
In a piece for Fairfax, his family said “We remember him as a devoted and loving son and brother. We will love him, always and will be forever grateful he was part of our family.”
For help or information, call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800. Help is available.