Staff And Cosplayers Are Boycotting Sydney Supanova After A Stall Sold Far-Right Extremist Merch
"For years everyone has attempted to make this a safe space for attendees, but unfortunately now it seems like that effort was futile."
The annual pop culture and cosplay convention was slammed for hosting a vendor that displayed swastikas, the Japanese rising sun, and items with homophobic statements on them.
hey @SupanovaExpo, care to comment on why a vendor at #SupanovaSydney show today was allowed to be displaying and selling overtly, aggressively and violently homophobic/transphobic nazi & fash merch? And allegedly harassing your attendees, who contacted security (who did nothing) pic.twitter.com/MDjlr0V5zJ
— ◤◢◤◢◤◢◤◢◤◢ (@King_Owl) June 19, 2021
Supanova claims some offensive material was taken down before opening day on Saturday, but also said the stall in question wasn’t kicked out until Sunday, with attendees seeing the paraphernalia for a whole day in between that.
They were criticised for not being quick enough with the removal, and for the vetting process that allowed the stall-owner to set up in the first place.
Supanova tried to pull me up for wearing a (fully clothed with opaque dance tights) Cammy cosplay quicker than they kicked out a literal Nazi selling propoganda.
— Lucky Bonez (@LuckyBonez) June 20, 2021
A number of staff, including employees and independent contractors, have also quit over the incident, including former MC, Benjamin Maio Mackay.
Ending my involvement with supanova [1/2] pic.twitter.com/mr42E54yuV
— Quinny, 🔜 to be exploring new horizons. (@Q_dog) June 23, 2021
A statement about Supanova and my involvement. pic.twitter.com/JmkDPGzoku
— Ardella (@missbelletrist) June 22, 2021
Maio Mackay, who worked with Supanova for three years, told Junkee that last weekend only adds to a pattern of disappointing behaviour from upper management.
“I personally have always stood for equality, and as a queer person can’t continue to look myself in the eye and work for an organisation that allowed this to happen,” they said.
Maio Mackay had taken a break from the Australia-wide events, and was meant to return to the convention circuit after COVID eased up, but says they can no longer do so in good faith.
This is just one thing in a long list of transgressions. Honestly if you mean sorry, show it. Because I won’t until I see it or someone new takes over.
— Beck Deetz (@DeetzerSSU) June 24, 2021
Sydney’s most recent expo aligns with a petition to remove founder and director Daniel Zachariou for a list of past controversies.
In 2015, Supanova came under fire for inviting sci-fi actor Adam Baldwin, who started #GamerGate in 2015. A year later, Zachariou supported a petition to stop queer inclusion education program Safe Schools, which he later apologised for.
“As one of Australia’s leading pop culture convention [sic], it needs to be better managed and run by someone who has better morals, a sustainable business ethic and respect for the community that attend it frequently as everyone deserves to feel and be safe and not uncomfortable attending a pop culture convention,” the current petition read.
In light of the recent events at Supanova, I will no longer be supporting or attending this event. I do not feel safe attending an event where organisers did not provide a safe and inclusive environment or respond fast enough to ensure this environment could return.
— Rachel Barnes (@GoryKills) June 25, 2021
Supanova released a lengthy statement on Thursday apologising for what went down, and confirmed the people behind the stall have been banned from all future events.
We owe you all a massive apology. pic.twitter.com/jbEghfVkiJ
— Supanova Comic Con & Gaming (@SupanovaExpo) June 24, 2021
“What occurred over the Exhibitor in question was, despite our team’s best efforts, a significant deviation from what we stand for.”
“Over the past few days, our Exhibitor Services team has been working hard to develop more vigorous screening measures to improve our Exhibitor and Alley applications to avoid these kinds of situations arising in the future.”
This apology has the appearance of a Youtube Sorry Comment, do you guys have like a file of these for every time your CEO does something incredibly backwards to what is considered acceptable to society?
— PrincessJazzCosplay #wearestarfleet (@PrincessJazzCos) June 25, 2021
“The apology is a step in the right direction, but until it is proven that there’s action being undertaken to prevent incidents like this and not just shallow promises it doesn’t change much,” Maio Mackay said.
“The genuinely sad thing is, so many of the wonderful Supanova team are queer, left-leaning, terrific humans. For years everyone has attempted to make this a safe space for attendees, but unfortunately now it seems like that effort was futile.”
“This absolutely shouldn’t reflect on anyone but upper management.”
It's been two days since Sydney Supanova. So naturally everyone's forgotten about the stall with Nazi merch, and the pile of other, ongoing issues surrounding the guy who owns and runs that Con as they get ready for the next one.
— DrewAnB (@JadedTransWoman) June 21, 2021
Junkee reached out to Supanova for comment.