A much-loved Australian LGBTIQ youth advocate was left ‘heartbroken’ after becoming the target of an online campaign by a conservative ‘mommy blogger’.
Delsi Moleta was targeted by Marijke Rancie, who runs the Facebook page, Politicalpostingmumma (PPM). Rancie used one of Moleta’s photos from her private Facebook page in an attempt to discredit her.
The photo featured Moleta in a mesh top where one of her nipples was visible.
Rancie describes her Facebook page as ‘a safe space for anyone concerned about children being sexualised and politicised. We don’t believe in gender theory and we don’t support SSC (Safe Schools Coalition)’.
The SSC was a group of Australian organizations focused on LGBTIQ people in schools with the mission to create safe and inclusive schools for students, families and staff who are in these groups. It has been the ongoing target of right-wing campaigners, especially during the debate on marriage equality.
In her ongoing campaign, Rancie declared on 13 December she was ‘going after Minus 18’.
Minus 18 is an award winning LGBTIQ youth organization, where Moleta works as an events producer. Its Queer Formals (proms) are world famous for creating a safe space for LGBTIQ high schoolers.
Later that day, Rancie posted Moleta’s personal photos.
In the post she wrote that she didn’t ‘mind what an individual chooses to do, but the moment they step into our kids world you can be damn sure we will be watching everything you do’.
Showing resilience for the youth
Following Rancie’s post Minus18, and Moleta became the targets of online trolls. Dozens of commenters wrote hurtful things about them on the PPM Facebook page.
But Moleta is determined to remain a good role model for young people by rising above Rancie’s attack.
‘I feel really heartbroken. My life is dedicated to supporting the queer community and I can’t even describe how much it hurts to read the things these people have said about me,’ Moleta told Gay Star News.
‘I will never stop fighting for the rights of LGBTQIA+ young people. Once I get over this initial shock and sadness, I know this is going to fuel me to work even harder for the community.
‘I am a strong adult who can rise up against this hate but for young people it can be a lot harder. I am going to be proof to queer youth that we can stand up to online hate and continue to make positive change in this world.’
Moleta and Minus18 were quick to call out Rancie’s actions as bullying. Moleta argued that its consequences go beyond a personal attack on her.
‘This attack campaign isn’t just against me – it’s against everyone who works in the LGBTIQ community and proves how much work there is to do,’ Moleta said.
Minus18 posted a response to Rancie’s attack, arguing that posting the photos broke state laws.
‘Since 2014, the “unauthorised public release of intimate images” (Image Based Abuse aka Revenge Porn) has been illegal in Victoria,’ it wrote on Facebook.
Minus18’s CEO, Micah Scott told Gay Star News that online bullying negatively impacts LGBTIQ youth. They also experience a disproportionate amount compared to other populations.
‘Seeing any form of online bullying is awful – but seeing it directed towards a highly regarded member of the LGBTIQ community makes it even worse,’ Scott said.
‘But it ignites a fire within us – the Minus18 mission is to stand out against this sort of online hate – and it’s no exception when it’s directed towards our own team.
‘LGBTIQ youth experience some of the highest rates of online abuse and bullying, and the research shows a direct link between this sort bullying and the development of mental health problems and suicide.
‘To every single young person who experiences online hate: we are here for you, and we support you.’
Moleta is also the host and founder of the queer youth radio program, Unicorn Youth, on Australia’s first LGBTI radio station, JOY 94.9.
‘I know that the queer youth community is full of intelligent, passionate people who we all have a lot to learn from. So it brings me great joy to platform their voice through avenues like Minus18 and JOY 94.9,’ Moleta said.
Both her and Minus18 will continue to work for LGBTI youth despite the attacks. They also hope to capitalize on the attention PPM has inadvertently afforded them.
‘Minus18 relies heavily on the donations and strength of our community to keep us supporting youth – so we’re using this media attention to highlight our fundraising campaign for the Queer Formal, so that a little bit of good can come from all this hate,’ Scott said.
And as for PPM, Moleta has a simple message for her.
‘Love trumps hate, so attack me all you want,’ she said.
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