Articles, On Culture

Political Statement regarding ‘Vandalism’ of GAYTM

Tena koutou,

On Thursday night our group “Queers Against Injustice” targeted an ANZ GAYTM with pink paint symbolising pinkwashing, attaching an accompanying manifesto outlining our reasons.

When we woke up we found articles by the NZ Herald and Stuff.co.nz reporting the GAYTM had been attacked with white paint and quoting passers-by as being offended at the homophobia implicit in the vandalism.

This “vandalism” was represented as unethical and homophobic in all media representations. The perpetrators were described as “ignorant” and “intolerant”. All the reporting on the GAYTM ignored the political nature of this “vandalism” and framed it as homophobic.  This misrepresentation happened through a lack of awareness on the part of the reporters supported by probable concealment of the accompanying message by ANZ, who tweeted a photo of the GAYTM with the poster on the ground.

Pinkwashing, a term we defined and outlined in the attached poster, describes the way that institutions co-opt LGBT struggles to distract from and disguise unethical behaviour.

We targeted the Ponsonby GAYTM firstly to draw attention to the commercialisation of the Pride Festival. As queer subjects, we object to the representation of queer identity in terms of consumptive and wealthy citizens. Associating queer politics with personal banking within a gentrified area reduces the queer subject to a bourgeois, cis-gender, white, male subject, and in doing so reproduces many of the intersecting injustices by which queer subjects are marginalised. We sought to draw attention to the lack of representation of bodies that counter the racist, classist and cis-biased nature of Pride.

By renaming their ATM a GAYTM, ANZ reproduces the frequent sidelining of queer subjects who fall outside of the ‘gay’ sexual identification, and as a result are further marginalised by the politics of ‘tolerance’ practiced by institutions such as ANZ.

Secondly, we sought to draw attention to the way ANZ is using GAYTMs to distract attention from the treatment of their workers.  The recent strikes by ANZ workers occurred in response to ANZ’s attempts to implement demands for ‘flexibility’, in the form of irregular rostering and frequently shifting labour demands. These proposed reforms attack workers’ rights to control their own time outside of their normal work hours, and constitute an assault on precious family time, time in the community, on religious or personal lifestyle choices, and the dignity of autonomy.

We understand that the political and theoretical discourse that foregrounds the intersectional basis of queer subjectivity, attending to the ways race, class and gender cooperate with and exacerbate queer oppression, is often overlooked in favour of a positive outlook. This outlook attempts to portray queer identity as purely fun, consumptive and nationalistic, and in doing so bars critique from within.

We can understand the media’s interpretation of this as a homophobic act, because being an angry queer subject who disagrees with the co-opting of our identity is irregular in the face of Pride’s projected homonormative and aforementioned presentation of the queer figure.
However, the immediate interpretation of our act as homophobic vandalism, rather than as critique from queer subjects themselves, reflects the heteronormative discourse that truly permeates our society. The media has assumed from the outset that we are not queer, an assumption we have become used to in the heterosexual society we are made to live, yet which we are also incredibly sick of.

It is disheartening that the representation of our symbolic pinkwashing of the GAYTM has been manipulated into an act of hatred and complicity.  This misrepresentation reinforces the image of tolerance that ANZ has spent a lot of money marketing to us.  It is very difficult to learn that the representation of our action has produced feelings of pain amongst the queer community.  We intended for our action to function as a reminder of the oppression still faced by countless humans globally: from those in Palestine subjected to pinkwashing by the Israeli state, to working class subjects around the world forced into precarious situations by the capitalist economy.

We encourage all queer subjects to remember that, despite the gains of Pride, discrimination will continue to exist for many others both outside and within our community and what would truly create a semblance of pride is the dismantling of all hatred.

Kia kaha and expresions of tautoko to all subjects both queer and straight who seek this same agenda.

anon.

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70 Comments

  1. Pingback: READ – Political Statement Regarding ‘Vandalism’ of GAYTM From The Pink Washers. | the real STEVE GRAY

      • It’s so frustrating. Why can’t people be enlightened like Breandan R Grant, with an accent on the a? Nobody understands understands the world like he does. Nobody.

    • Its quite intelligently written compared to nearly all other media?

    • jasunmark says

      It’s pretty stupid. It’s like people getting upset that we’re no longer beaten by police in back alley, mafia-owned bars because it “upsets the queer experience.”

      • Chrissypoo says

        Exactly… funny ISIS is throwing queers off buildings and this is what these assholes think is important.

  2. Dear Anon. You are a coward, a disgrace to the gay community and a moron. And look, yes that’s my name attached to the post. Let’s see if you have the guts to identify yourself.

  3. Not entirely sure you are getting your message across in any way shape or form here. Should you not be embracing those who embrace diversity and work alongside them rather than continually marginalising yourself and damaging the progress that so many have made? I fail to see how this is helping anyone.

  4. Pingback: Queer group say they targeted 'GAYTM' in Auckland to protest institutions' co-opting of LGBT struggles | ListenRadios BLOG

  5. Pingback: Queer group say they targeted 'GAYTM' in Auckland to protest institutions' co-opting of LGBT struggles | TKG News

  6. So why express hate towards some people who have chosen to live essentially “mainstream” lives as you put it? It’s as much their choice to do so as it is yours to choose not to.

    What gives you the right to attack them?

  7. Mark Harris says

    ” It is very difficult to learn that the representation of our action has produced feelings of pain amongst the queer community.”

    Seriously, what the fuck did you think it was going to do, other than this? It seems the “pinkwashing” is more your cant than the ANZ’s activities.

    • Britta Lauritzen says

      I totally agree, Mark Harris.

      Uncool, “Queers Against Injustice”, uncool. You paint yourselves as such a socially and politically aware group who has some really potent objections to the commercialisation of LGBTQ identities, but you fail to address the fundamental flaws in your act. As a visibly queer person, if I were to walk past any type of LGBTQ themed object, whether it be an ATM or a shopfront or a work of art, and I see it vandalised, that makes me scared. There’s no context, there’s no message, except that this is an act of anger. But since it’s so vague who the anger is addressed to, and why, I then have to continue my walk home in fear that there is potentially someone nearby who has every reason to want to hurt me exactly as they “hurt” this object. If you’re so enlightened, I’m sure there are other ways you could get your point across, and I am surprised and disappointed that you didn’t consider the affect your actions would have on LGBTQ people, especially the young and closeted, who are highly likely to interpret this act as a threat to their own safety. Stop fear mongering, and learn broadcast your opinions in clear and non-intimidating way.

  8. Peter Dragicevich says

    That’s the worst piece of undergraduate drivel I’ve read for a long time. Are you a politics student, by any chance?

    Firstly, any political protest supposedly in favour of queer rights that’s so poorly done that it’s widely presumed to be homophobic can only be regarded as an epic fail. You can’t go blaming the media – it’s your job to your message across, no-one else’s. I was involved in many political protests back when we were fighting for our basic human rights (some also involving paint cans, if truth be told) and I can assure you that our political messages were always clear.

    Secondly, if you feel that Pride is ‘racist, classist and cis-biased’, why don’t you get involved. You might actually learn that many of the main organisers of this year’s event were Maori, Polynesian and decidedly non-bourgeois. Community-based groups like Pride reflect the passion of the people who actually get off their arses and do things. If you want to see a more diverse parade, get organised and put in a float. No-one’s stopping you. Don’t be such a victim. Then again it’s probably less time-consuming to buy a can of paint and splash it about in a poorly conceived and even more poorly articulated piece of political vandalism.

    There is very possibly a valid argument to be had about pinkwashing and the commercialisation of our events – what I shame you didn’t make it.

  9. cjmax02 says

    I felt sick when I heard about the “GAYTM”S. Like being queer has anything to do with the institutions of white, male privilege? As if queers are all living happy, wealthy, rainbow lives? To Bart and Brian, I call you out on your white male privilege and shame on your damn pink dollar. The movement is nothing but a sham if only one group benefits. Is your queer pride intersectional? I call bullshit! The fight for queer rights is not over.

      • As a young trans woman, it’s really not “Our” community, it’s YOURS. That’s the problem.

      • Let’s do some brief stats on the PINK DOLLAR you’re so fond of. Gay men earn what, 10% less than straight men? Well when trans women transition their wages drop by a third. And that’s not even counting the massive rates of unemployment due to employment discrimination. Plus some people aren’t white.

        That is to say, some of us have to work much much harder than you to get the same percentage of a pink fucking dollar, and we’re pretty upset about that fact.

      • jasunmark says

        ok, Ada, and trashing a bank machine helps solve that problem how, exactly?

    • Lightning Baltimore says

      I had no idea ATMs are for white males, only.

    • Oh look, another phony playing at victim. Listen sweets, you’re owed nothing so how’s about you stop blaming everyone else for you own inequities. As for calling people out on their privilege, seriously?!? Do you honestly think such a whiny trope of internet bravery is somehow going to make them shudder in their boots? I get you’re upset and angry at the world and I even understand why; however, there’s a puerile undertone of being owed something that negates the very real concerns some have. Simply put, perhaps you need to check your manufactured, self-imposed, victimhood before calling everyone else on theirs.

      …..and no, I won’t apologize nor will I feel any guilt. Impotent rage via the internet will not harm me in the least, but if it makes you feel better, by all means, call me whatever you want……I’m a big boy, I can handle it.

    • jasunmark says

      I’m getting pretty fed up having to hear people such as yourself berate me for having the nerve to be a white guy with a job. You know what? I had to live with death threats, violence, attacks and when I asked for help, I was blamed for it all. I hit the streets fighting for our equality when I was 19 (that was nearly 30 years ago). Back then our community was also fighting a plague that wiped out half of us and yet we still weren’t the whiney little entitled snots such as yourself.

      And sorry to have to remind you of this but those rights and protections that you take for granted? Those didn’t just fall out of the sky, those were very hard fought and most of them required the support of corporations. That’s how this works, you half-wit.

      Nobody said that right was over… clearly you want to now start to attack gay people if they’re also men and white. Especially if we’re – gasp – employed. And you can call bullshit all you want… not a single word from your whiney mouth matters to anyone.

    • David says

      @cjmax2:

      – Gay people aren’t “queer.”

      – If the GayTM made you feel sick, then that is a bonus.

      – An ATM is not a symbol of elitism. Virtually every adult in New Zealand uses or has used an ATM and the overwhelming majority of households has a savings or checking account. And even if the ATM were a symbol of elitism, tough shit.

      – If you don’t think that the “movement” is helping your “group,” or if you think that it is insufficiently racist and sexist towards white males, then start your own. You won’t be allowed to vandalize ours. And our movement will be open to all gay people.

      @Ada:

      You are finally getting it. There is no “LGBT community.” There is no such thing as “LGBT.” There never was. in the 1990s, people who purport to represent transgenders tried to attach themselves to a a larger, more successful movement and suck out as much money and political capital as they could. Thus was born LGBT. By inventing a new “people” and making Ts a part of the fictitious group, trans activists made it impossible for LGBs to consider their own interests and needs. For a while, this scam worked. But LGBs are not that stupid and eventually even we could see that this was nothing more than exploitation. Transgenders are largely heterosexual and many are as homophobic, if not more homophobic than non-trans straight people. On top of that, many are violent and have an entitlement mentality, as if LGBs live to serve them. LGBs and Ts are not one people and to corral them into one group does violence to both. The very best thing that can happen for LGBs and Ts is for “LGBT” to come to a long overdue end.

      • Actually the GAY movement was started by an assorted group of ‘inverts,’ (look that word up you ahistorical ignoramus) largely lead by trans women of colour such as SYLVIA RIVERA and MARSHA P JOHNSON, before we were kicked out by TERFs.

        Trans people are also more likely to be homosexual than cis people.

        You’re just absolutely wrong about everything, and it’s dangerous and harmful for you to spread such misinformation. Transphobe.

  10. cjmax02 says

    These commenters are full of shit! Like we’re all living happy, wealthy rainbow lives? Check your age privilege and your cis privilege and your mental health privilege at the damn door. I felt sick at the GAYTM thing – we’re not all glitter and parties. We’re not welcome in the white cis male sector of banking. Fuck the “pink dollar”, when so many of my female friends are working nights because they risk abuse during the day. A brown trans woman was assaulted at pride and people said it was her fault! If that’s the status quo of the gay movement I want none of it!

    • Chris says

      One can’t be afraid of abuse and support taking out anger on other people’s property. To have a grievance acknowledged one must come with clean hands.

    • Dicksmithington says

      And here we see it. People who have been hounded, oppressed and murdered for a thousand plus years including paragons of our community who fought while being gay way still ILLEGAL being told by some whiny little Internet rat who probably hasn’t seen a single once of oppression in her life to “check your privilege”.

      Blow it out your ass lady.

    • jasunmark says

      no. You’re full if shit. Get a job and stop being such a cry baby that life hasn’t been handed to you on a silver platter. Life is hard, kiddo, and it’s not fair. You can sit around and cry about it or you can get off your fat ass and try to do something about it. But you can’t change it.

  11. Using the pride parade to highlight your anti capitalist/honky agenda is handy, but confusing and hardly effective to your message.
    Still I guess it was a decision born of the frustration at being the most marginalized of all.
    Good luck with your struggle, but the gay community is now fully synthesized within capitalism re ellen degeneres et al.
    Mixing political messages like this is not really effective with the wider public, you need to petition this public in a clearer manner.
    However, those within the GLBT community will be more the wiser, which means you have been successful in your actions, well done.

  12. What a damn shitty thing to do. Find a better way to make your points publicly. Instead you wrecked this machine which I though was a cool thing for gay people, for me. You just trashed it.

  13. Azulnyc says

    Notice how these people above have not really addressed structural and institutional racism that is White Privilege? And you can bet they never will — not when they benefit from it.

    There really isn’t actual solidarity in the LGBTI community unless you wanna be White-centric or become White…

  14. biebs says

    1st world problems… there is more to worry about in this world than pink paint

  15. bobsf94117 says

    “Check your age privilege and your cis privilege and your mental health privilege at the damn door. ”

    1) You will age, as well, and one day you’ll get your age privilege. 2) Quite a few older, rich, gay men support trans rights just not the confused, pointless vandalizing of ATMs and 3) are you saying you’re mentally ill?

    • Being born with aspergers syndrome, or say ADHD is hardly an illness but just a difference.
      Neurodiversity and neuroelitism are better descriptive words here, rather than mental illness. Being gay was once classified as a mental illness…. and one day aspergers syndrome will be seen as a difference, whereas currently, shrinks are still trying to ‘cure’ you of aspergers syndrome and giving hyperactive kids harmful ritalin, much like trying to cure people of being gay.
      This is the new human rights frontier, neuroelitism and neurodiversity.
      Just like discriminated gays, aspies are suiciding a-plenty, probably more so.
      They are not mentally ill, just different.
      Je suis ADHD

  16. A great waste of paint accompanied with sophomoric words signifying absolutely nothing.

    Such are the pretensions and manufactured offenses of the “queer theorists”

  17. Chris says

    What’s wrong with sending a letter? Vandalism destroys your message.

    • The media tried to destroy their message by falsely labeling the painting as homophobic….

      • Someone vandalizes an ATM that’s been done up for Pride, the logical conclusion is it was pribably done by someone who disapproves. That’s not a media conspiracy sweetie, that’s just what it looked like, because this protest was so poorly thought out.

  18. I heard the same rhetoric here in the States in the ’80s, when the New Left co-opted what had been a fairly effective gay rights movement and effectively neutered it. Oh, yes, they would be fighting for our rights, but first we had to end war and poverty throughout the world. And save the whales. And a few other things. But they were going to fight for gay rights Real Soon Now.

    How many of those workers you’re so concerned about are out marching for your rights?

  19. Nick Thompson says

    Ah, the zeal and ideological purity of youth.

    I predict that in about 30 years most of the authors of this article will either be ministers in a National Party government or trying to drum up support for whatever replaces ACT.

    (and, yeah, I’m exercising my aged-person’s privilege right here. When I were a lad we also called it “hindsight”)

    • Peter Dragicevich says

      Nick, you made me chortle into my muesli this morning. Well done.

      Another perception that my ‘aged-person’s privilege’ (does 44 count, by the way, or am I just semi-privileged as I haven’t had the benefits of having to survive on a pension yet) has left me burdened with is that humour is a more effective weapon against injustice than po-faced indignation, pseudo-intellectual diatribes using buzz-words that 90% of the population won’t understand (cis privilege? really? elitist much?) or even, dare I say it, pink paint.

      • That better not be expensive Vogel’s muesli paid for by your white privileged pink dollars Peter!

        I’d write more but I’ve been up since before dawn, already at work at my white privileged job earning 10% less than my straight male colleagues apparently… FML

  20. Fuck whatever people in here have to say that diminishes what you are standing for. Good on you for speaking up and acting out for what you believe in. Kia kaha.

    • jasunmark says

      they stand for hating gay people. They’re a bunch of trans activists who hate gay people, especially the white, male ones. Even worse if we have jobs. That’s all. Nothing more. Maybe they’re also upset that their porridge is too cold. Not much else.

  21. Prosecute them. And the media got this right. It was an anti-gay crime. The fact that the perpetrators call themselves “queer” and hide under an ideology that is different than that of the typical anti-gay criminal is of no moment. This was an anti-gay act.

    To those enthralled by their “argument” please educate yourselves as to what an “argument” consists of. It is a what comes between a premise and a conclusion. It is not a series of conclusions asserted one after the other.

    • Is the phrase ‘prosecute them’ an asserted conclusion?
      Sorry, I’m just having some fun with all this today.

      • No, you’re quite right. “Prosecute them” is not an argument. It is an imperative. Because the arguments in favor of and opposed to the criminalization of vandalism have already been heard, weighed, considered and resolved by the people of New Zealand, Their conclusion is reflected in the current criminal code. Thus, I no longer need to make the case anew, but rather only exhort that the authorities follow through on what the people have already decided.

  22. Kim Meredith Melhuish says

    I felt upbeat when I saw the GAYTMs, yes you’ve raised some relevant issues, co-opting of what is currently popular to serve commercial interests, however nothing new there. Also your group raises the treatment of ANZ staff as an issue, just one issue at a time, referencing too widely. However it needs to be reiterated that it has been a long, difficult drawn out battle for the LGBTIQ community, did I mention what a long struggle it has been just to get this far and there is still a way to go. The Pinkwashing message is confusing, divisive and scaremongering, go back to the drawing board, fine tune the message and come out, put a name to this. Good luck but please spare the pink paint, that stuff ain’t cheap.

    • GAG- gays against greed?
      WDSMU- white devil slave masters unite?
      BFB- bitches for bush?
      LOLCATS- left out loonies cant argue tranny sexbombs?

  23. Pingback: #Notproud of Pinkwashing « The Daily Blog

  24. Pingback: Why Queers Against Injustice are right – the depoliticisation of NZ culture « The Daily Blog

  25. At the end of the day, it’s still vandalism, no matter what your sexual preference is. And these idiots apparently represent the rest of our community? There are better ways of getting a message across.

  26. Pingback: Queer group says it targeted ‘GAYTM’ in Auckland to protest institutions’ co-opting of LGBT struggles | PrideTV.com.au

  27. Daniel says

    While you raise some valid points and have a message to communicate – your medium to communicate it was terribly ineffective.

    “However, the immediate interpretation of our act as homophobic vandalism, rather than as critique from queer subjects themselves, reflects the heteronormative discourse that truly permeates our society.”

    What exactly did you expect? I’m sure we’re all well aware that heteronormative discourse dominates society – this is hardly making a groundbreaking point. How was this ever going to be interpreted as anything other than homophobic? You’ve slanted ANZ and the media for failing to understand your message or intent, yet provided no context to them other than this exceedingly dense academic post on an obscure art blog. As a result of layers of confusion and miscommunication, you’ve undoubtedly wound up offending many of those in the queer community who you were attempting to give voice to.

    Finally, this was piece of work by a local artist. Regardless of whether you agree with its placement or not, defacing someone’s art is a unnecessarily disrespectful way to make your point.

  28. While you raise some valid points and have a message to communicate – your medium to communicate it was terribly ineffective.

    “However, the immediate interpretation of our act as homophobic vandalism, rather than as critique from queer subjects themselves, reflects the heteronormative discourse that truly permeates our society.”

    What exactly did you expect? I’m sure we’re all well aware that heteronormative discourse dominates society – this is hardly making a groundbreaking point. How was this ever going to be interpreted as anything other than homophobic? You’ve slanted ANZ and the media for failing to understand your message or intent, yet provided no context to them other than this exceedingly dense academic post on an obscure art blog. As a result of layers of confusion and miscommunication, you’ve undoubtedly wound up offending many of those in the queer community who you were attempting to give voice to.

    Finally, this was piece of work by a local artist. Regardless of whether you agree with its placement or not, defacing someone’s art is a unnecessarily disrespectful way to make your point.

  29. Chance Gardener says

    What a pathetic protest that has alienated everyone. Not clever. Not respectful. Not helpful. Not clear. Like a spoilt child throwing a tantrum by destroying someone else’s work because they are feeling left out.

    Let us not kid oursleves, however. The group’s concerns are correct. Trans people are horribly discriminated against by a broad swathe of the wider community, by some gay men and by some lesbians. It is a tough road for my Trans friends and we as a gay/queer/whatever community need to do more.

    We need to make sure that our Festivals do include a broad cross section of the community. We need to make sure our events are safe spaces for men, women, trans, sissies, poofs, dykes, queers and whatever other word we wanna use to describe some of us.

    I don’t doubt the dispute with ANZ and many other banks over working conditions is a bitter one but how is vandalism of this machine going to impact this? There are many many things that ANZ does wrong. My actions can include boycotting, protesting, buying shares and standing up at shareholders meetings, lobbying my MP and more. Throwing paint anonymously at one positive attempt the bank is taking is not one.

    Queers Against Injustice need to do something that builds dialogue and community not spattering it with paint.

  30. Therese Quin says

    As a previous gender studies tutor who likes reading Foucault and queer theorists inspired by his work, I was quite impressed by this attempt to take GLBT concerns outside of the quite insulated Ponsonby Rd environment. The only issue I would have is the use of the word ‘pinkwashing’ because it suggests that the idea has been conceived by academics or powers that be from places not familiar with NZ’s use of pink to promote breast cancer awareness. Unintentionally this may create tension with feminist aims that are always respected and embraced by people marginalised by their sexuality or gender identity. However, like fruit flies you may find yourselves vulnerable to surveillance as technically damaging property is a crime. Is it really worthwhile given that you could write a book or make a documentary expressing your ideas instead. Props for claiming responsibility though 🙂

  31. by painting the atm machine is surely the wrong thing to do to help our cause .. wake up u are only creating dishormony and anger against us .. there are other ways to get your message accross . and that aint a good way to do it .. i have found personally just to be myself . and not be so bloody negitive is a much better way for us to get respect . and equal rights .. others at my work and other groups and organisations i mix with respect me for who i am because i do not go round protesting and causeing dissharmony . . you are only makeing it harder for us to mix with society . by being so troublesum . and by being a loud mouth vandal . and by attacking the police who had jjoined us in our pride parade .. now that is just so senseless .. cant you see by your actions you are putting our hard won success back years . go see a shrink . and get your head sorted out . before you do any more damage please .

  32. Master Moose says

    While I applaud “inclusion” and equal rights, I believe that these ATMs and a whole slew of other corporate marketing aimed at raising a companies profile by being “gay-friendly” is off the mark.

    The use of such gimmickry as the gayTM tells me that ANZ thinks all gay people must be hyperly extroverted and love overly colourful and glittery images. It separates the “community” from the rest of society as a novelty act.

    Rather than being inclusive, I feel that the opposite is true and people are being singled out for being different as opposed to being welcomed for how they contribute.

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