AN organiser of one of Australia’s biggest pop culture expos has apologised for his support of a petition to end the Safe Schools program.
Daniel Zachariou is the event director of Supanova, a popular convention event for people into anime, comic-books, manga, sci-fi, TV shows, movies, gaming and cosplay.
Safe Schools is a program which offers resources to schools to equip school staff with knowledge, skills and practical ideas to create safer and more inclusive environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families.
The petition claims “children as young as 11 are forced to imagine and describe a situation where they are sexually attracted to someone of the same sex” and Safe Schools was sexualising children.
LGBTI Supanova fans were disgusted by Zachariou’s apparent transphobia and homophobia, saying he’s alienating a big part of his market and LGBTI fans attended con events because they were a place that was inclusive and they felt safe.
Dylan Adler, who once spoke at a Supanova event on a Queer Geeks of Oz panel, said he is ashamed he ever did and found Zachariou’s actions “horrendous and disgusting”.
“Geek culture is meant to be inclusive first and foremost. An event like Supernova is meant to be all inclusive and you have one of the brains behind it who is criticising Safe Schools, which is such an important program,” he said.
“Other events like Comic Con and Pax have a large diverse sexuality and gender fan base and they are inclusive.”
“He’s allowed to say what he wants, but I would hope people the LGBTI communities and those that support them don’t help to line his pockets with cash after this.”
GX Australia was the country’s first LGBTI popular culture con event held earlier this year and its co-director Liam Esler said Zachariou should have been respectful to his audience.
“This is not a nuanced nor complicated issue. When you’re running an event like Supanova, you have a responsibility to your audience to be respectful, empathetic and inclusive,” he said.
“Zachariou’s support of this petition, like Supanova’s support of Adam Baldwin last year (an actor accused of harassing women), just illustrates how out of touch Supanova has become. It’s incredibly disappointing to see, and just reaffirms why we need events like GX Australia.
“The Safe Schools program has been effectively shown to help not only LGBTQI+ students but also LGBTQI+ faculty and staff. This is a vital program for a highly vulnerable group.”
Supanova and Zachariou did not return Star Observer’s request for a comment, but he did issue an apology on the Supanova Facebook where he promised to introduce a diversity panel.
“Recently I shared a link on my personal facebook (sic) page. In doing so I hoped to express some concerns about the nuances of the Safe Schools initiative,” Zachariou wrote in the post.
“In no way did I intend to express transphobic or homophobic views, which would not align with the values of acceptance and camaraderie that I hold and aim to demonstrate through Supanova.
“Moreover, such views would not reflect the perspectives and diversity of the phenomenal team of staff and volunteers that make up Supanova as a whole.”
Read his full apology below: