If Israel Folau is the cloud, here’s the silver lining!
The millionaire rugby player has raised $2 million in public donations through a site set up by the Australian Christian Lobby. Folau says he needs the cash to defend himself against his employer, Rugby Australia, who cancelled his contract after he repeatedly posted homophobic comments to social media.
To many, Folau’s public appeal has been regarded as distasteful. Fundraising platforms like Go Fund Me are generally used by charity organisations or individuals and families to finance crucial medical treatments that are beyond the means of most.
So, when Folau announced that his legal woes were “the fight of my life” others responded with the observation that kids battling cancer and other terminal illnesses really are, quite literally, fighting for their lives, and that others still are far more at-risk or vulnerable.
Three LGBTIQ community members, Magda Szubanski, Simon Dunn and Ryan Carter have launched alternative fund-raising efforts in response to Folau, with great results.
“Our Australian community is diverse, accepting, powerful and generous,” says Magda’s campaign page. “It’s that spirit for which we should be known, and it’s with those values that we should be donating our time and money.
“Fundraising efforts which seek to divide us divert time and energy from those in real, immediate need. There are too many in Australia in the ‘fight of their lives’ – doing their best to survive, and not seeking the chance to put others down.”
For Love has raised over $197,000.
Ryan Carter’s Support LGBTI+ Australian People Of Colour campaign has so far raised over $17,000 for Black Rainbow, an organisation that aims to reduce suicide rates and provide nationwide support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who identify as LGBTQI+.
“Folau’s huge profile, especially given he is a person of colour, is inciting even further hatred and discrimination against an already marginalised community,” Ryan’s Go Fund Me page states. “I believe most Australians want the best for each other, and when our mates are down, we rally together and help them out. Intersectionality is crucial in raising awareness of and making progress for marginalised people.”
Simon Dunn’s Supporting LGBT+ Youth in Response to Israel Folau on Go Fund me has raised $11,000.
“I’m a former member of the Australian Bobsleigh Team, rugby player with the Sydney Convicts Rugby club but, more importantly, a proud openly gay athlete. Over the last few years, I’ve publicly spoken out about and debated Israel Folau’s continued posts regarding my community,” says Simon on his page.
All funds raised by Simon will go to help Twenty10, an organisation that helps assist at-risk LGBTIQ youth, who are some of the most vulnerable in the community.
“Same-sex attracted Australians have suicidal ideations that are 14 times higher than the general population, and six times higher amongst younger LGBTQI+ members,” explains Twenty10 material. “The average age of suicide is 16, often just before they ‘come out’ to their friends and family.”