Culture

The Daily Telegraph Tried To Shame This Queer Greens Candidate. Here’s His Response. 

"Newsflash: I'm gay, I look good in glitter, and yes, I can dance."

Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph published an article about the recently preselected Greens candidate for Sydney, Matthew Thompson. This article was not so much a news story as it was the Tele cherry-picking information from Thompson’s Instagram account to shame him for partying. Specifically, the Tele seems to have a bit of a problem with Thompson partying while gay.

While the article never specifically mentions Thompson’s sexual orientation, it refers only to posts on his Instagram account where he’s dressed flamboyantly, wearing glitter, and attending some kind of queer party or event. Thompson’s Instagram account also contains plenty of posts about other things, like his activist and campaigning work — it even documents a few quiet nights in — but these posts didn’t make it into the Tele.

Instead, the newspaper focused on a couple of “crude posts” from Thompson, including a picture of him taken at a party at the LGBTIQ pub The Imperial, which Thompson had captioned “category is glitter smothered raging alcoholic fuckboii in mesh and snapback”.

The Tele also had a problem with a post Thompson made at Mardi Gras last year, which was actually a really heartfelt post that happened to include the line “weekends of slutdropping benders at Arq paid off in the form of me aggressively shimmying my way at the front of the Greens float.” The Tele added a helpful aside for its readers explaining that “‘Slut-dropping’ is a sexy dance move”, which should give you an idea of how well they understood the posts they were criticising.

If you’re waiting for the part where this actually gets controversial, we’re sorry to say that’s it: two Instagram captions are the basis for the entire story. As Thompson himself put it on Twitter: “Newsflash: I’m gay, I look good in glitter, and yes, I can dance”. When we called him up this morning to ask him about his reaction to the story, he was blunt: “It was a deep sigh”.

“When I put my hand up to do this, I knew I was probably going to get this sort of story,” he said. “I’m not a conventional person — I’m pretty queer, and I’m pretty proud of that, and I know that can be fodder for this sort of shit.”

“Obviously there’s no direct callout to my sexuality, but I think it’s pretty implied. They know what they’re doing with those photos, they know what message they’re sending,” he said. He also pointed out that while he provided a series of quotes to the Daily Telegraph in response, they included only two lines of that statement in the final story.

“I mean, I’m not surprised,” Thompson told Junkee. “I think the way they’ve selected the comments is they want to paint me as this one-dimensional party boy who isn’t serious about politics, who isn’t ready to go in there and fight for the things I believe in.”

“I would say to them that the idea that politics can only be done by a certain category of people, by people in suits, by predominantly older straight white conservative men, is really outdated, and it’s the reason that we’re in the mess we’re in. We’ve got this economic system that’s crushing us all, we’ve got rampant climate change, our generation’s been locked out of housing markets, education’s increasingly unaffordable, and we’re here because our Parliament doesn’t represent or reflect the diverse and vibrant communities that we’re all part of.”

Thompson also had a few choice words for the Daily Tele writers trying to understand young queer people on social media. “That comment doesn’t actually say that I am an alcoholic fuckboi, I should add — it says I’m dressed like an alcoholic fuckboi,” he said. “A very big distinction.”

“It just shows how out of touch the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail are, if they think that these are controversial things, because young people — people who’ve grown up with Instagram and on social media — we all have shitposts like this. We all have made a comment here or a photo there that is a bit on the nose, or a bit tongue in cheek, or a bit irreverent.”

“And as our generation gets involved in politics, as we take mantles of leadership, as we challenge what it means to do politics, this sort of shit’s going to keep coming up. It’s tired, it’s old, and our generation isn’t fazed by it because we understand it and we know it. It just really shows how they don’t get it anymore.”