How a Kiwi ad calling out casual homophobia has proved so popular

by Max Towle / 07 October, 2017

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A new ad by Rainbow Youth calling out casual homophobia is going super-viral.

The video, with the tagline, “If it's not gay, it's not gay,” challenges the negative use of the word "gay" and has already been viewed well over 700,000 times. Every few minutes we hit refresh and the view count leaps in the thousands. It has also been shared about 10,000 times. 

The ad shows a farmer saying “gay” after dropping a pie. A mate replies, “Actually Nigel, that's not gay at all.”

"It's deeply disappointing, but it's not gay."

Another farmer later says he's "quite gay".

Rainbow Youth is a charitable group that helps young queer and gender diverse people. The ad is part of Rainbow Youth’s work with the MediaWorks Foundation, and was conceptualised by Y&R NZ.

A still from Rainbow Youth's new ad. Photo / Screenshot

The Wireless' Max Towle spoke to Rainbow Youth’s Executive Director, Frances Arns, who says the group is “super stoked” about the video’s popularity as it is its first ever ad campaign.

Hey Frances! I understand the video is part of your “I'm Local Project” - what’s that?

It’s basically about providing support and resources for LGBTIQ youth in the more rural areas. So the ad was designed with that sort of audience in mind. But while there’s definitely a group of people that we hoped the ad would resonate more with, it’s not simply restricted to the rural community or just men.

The video manages to do a great job keeping light-hearted and non-confrontational, and yet the message comes across quite powerfully - the message being that using the word “gay” in the wrong context can be very harmful.

More often than not, someone saying "gay" will be around someone who has a connection to the word, or it will have something to do with their identity or the identity of someone in their whanau or community.

The response has been incredible. I saw an article on the BBC about the video.

Yeah, absolutely. We were contacted by Buzzfeed, yesterday, which felt like a bit of a milestone. Usually, I try to avoid comment sections on a lot of news articles because you can get some very negative and disheartening responses, but every time I scroll through our Facebook post, heaps of comments are super-supportive.

People are telling us the ad has changed their view completely. While there are some negative comments, other people are responding and defending the message, which is great to see. It just reinforces how strong the community is.

Can you please talk about the importance of the term “gay”?

“Gay” is a really important term in the community. A lot of people use the word to describe themselves and it can be a really positive and empowering word. Unfortunately, it has been picked up and used as a pejorative term in everyday language. I think this has been decreasing lately, as awareness increases, but it’s still a common thing, especially outside of community spaces.

In the future, are there other barriers you’d like to breakdown, like transphobia?

Absolutely. I see targeting homophobia, transphobia, biphobia - all of the phobias against the community - as a really important obligation that Rainbow Youth has, and especially with this ad, we’ve got an increasing presence on social media that we can use for a lot of good.

Are there other projects in the pipeline?

One of the big projects we’re working on is rolling out more services in regional centres around the country. Yesterday, actually, a big group of us went to Tauranga for the opening of our first support and drop-in centre outside of Auckland. We had quite a few youth involved in Tauranga Pride - a local peer support group - that came along as well.

This article was originally published by The Wireless.

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