The Gloria Jeans coffee company is again attempting to clarify its relationship to the Australian Christian Lobby and the Hillsong Church as it deals with one of the most public and powerful boycotts Australia’s LGBT community has ever dished out.
The reveal of the café crew’s $30,000 donation to the ACL has prompted a massive backlash, at a time when the Lobby’s clumsily-delivered anti-marriage-equality message is their main activity.
The “boycott Gloria Jeans” message has been all but inescapable this week, even after the company reacted quickly on Queen’s Birthday Monday to declare their support for equality and diversity.
Last night at Oxford Street’s Midnight Shift drag queen Joyce Maynge performed one of her favourite ‘70s songs Gloria, encouraging her audience to loudly boo when she mimed the song’s name in the chorus. Even gay hook-up app Grindr now has this special message for its thousands of Aussie users, linking them to a Change.org petition, which now has almost 2,000 signatories:
But yesterday’s most damning coffee spill came from national youth mental health foundation Headspace, which released a statement explaining why it now wants nothing to do with the annual RU OK? Day mental health awareness campaign which Gloria Jeans proudly sponsors.
“That a major sponsor of the campaign, Gloria Jeans, made a significant donation to the Australian Christian Lobby in 2010 has given us cause for concern,” notes Headspace.
“Headspace supports the right of organisations such as the ACL to free speech. However, when that free speech has the potential to harm the quality of life of young people and perpetuate bigotry, inequality, fear and violence we know we have a responsibility to stand up for the rights of those whose voices are so often unheard.
“It is because of this that Headspace feels it has a moral and ethical duty to withdraw as a partner of RU OK? Day.”
Late yesterday afternoon, Gloria Jeans’ senior management team issued another response to the community’s concern via its official Facebook page.
“Over the last few days there has been a lot of discussion about our company and we would like to take the opportunity to clear the air,” it began, again noting its belief in respect for “equality and diversity”, and even going as far as to stress “We are not homophobic and are proud that our team members come from all walks of life and sexual orientations.”
Unlike its coffee rival Starbucks this week, Gloria Jeans would not pledge its support for marriage equality, noting “we hold no position on marriage law, and in line with our values support people’s freedom to choose who they love.”
As for the company’s Australian Christian Lobby donation: “We would like to apologise for any hurt or offence which may have been caused by the paid advertising we undertook for the 2010 prime ministerial debate event, hosted by the Australian Christian Lobby.
“It appears that there is now a perception that we endorse the views and values of the ACL. This is not the case. Gloria Jean’s Coffees does not support the independent views and values of the ACL.”
What about Hillsong Church? “Gloria Jean’s Coffees is a privately owned business and not owned by the Hillsong Church,” the statement continues.
“This misunderstanding often arises because our founders are active parishioners of their local Hillsong Church.
“We are not affiliated with Hillsong, however we do support a wide range of charities and churches in the communities in which our coffees houses operate including Hillsong.”
That support continues to this very day. Earlier this week, Gloria Jeans was mysteriously removed as a major sponsor of the Hillsong Church’s upcoming conference, but today the coffee brand is back on the list of those partnering with the controversial religious group’s major annual event.
Gloria Jeans has now twice responded to the LGBT community’s concerns about the organisations our coffee coins end up funding – but are you convinced?
Same Same has sought to tell both sides of this developing story and we’ll continue to keep you updated. As ever, we appreciate your feedback, either with a comment below or a vote in our poll here.