A Melbourne photographer, who was “abusively outed” at school, broke into the grounds of his former Catholic school St Kevin’s and and burnt a blazer to protest the toxic homophobia and misogynistic culture at the institution.

Melbourne and New York based photographer James J Robinson posted about his unique protest on Instagram with several images including the burning of a St Kevin’s blazer along with several headlines from various publications reporting on the school’s toxic behaviour.

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The infamous all boys private school has made headlines in the past for the students’ toxic behaviour. In 2019 a group of St Kevin’s students were caught on camera making sexist chants on a tram and last year there were allegations against a teacher for sexual misconduct towards a student.

‘I Saw Revenge Porn Against Girls’

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by James J. Robinson (@james.pdf)

In his Instagram post, Robinson said he was motivated to act after it was reported that Collingwood football player and fellow St Kevin’s alumni Jordan De Goey was arrested in New York for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman on the dance floor.

“Something snapped in me this time. The patriarchal culture I saw inside the school’s gates burst out and made its way to New York, my new home for the last five years,” the post said.

“St Kevin’s is a bubble where privileged young men can rehearse oppression without consequence, before graduating with flying colours in public. A place where “locker room talk” exists openly in hallways and classrooms.”

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“I saw revenge porn against girls from “sister schools”. I saw the objectifying of female teachers and the transphobic bullying of a teacher who transitioned. I saw friends make a pact of silence to protect two students who pulled a knife on a taxi driver, and a principal who subsequently paid to keep quiet.”

“I saw a system designed to let young boys think they can do anything, assault anyone and get away with it.”

‘School’s Dismissive Response’

In 2019 Robinson said he had reached out to the school and sent them an email providing advice on how to create a safer school environment.

“I sent the ex-principal an email detailing the dark spiral of self-hate and gay shame the school put me in, a path I still struggle with well into my twenties. I explained how systemic homophobia and racism bled into the curriculum, teaching me to hate myself.”

“I received one dismissive response and a cancelled meeting.”

Robinson also gave a Ted talk the same year he says he reached out to the school where he explains in detail how he was abusively outed when he was 14 years old.

“A boy two years above me asked me out on MSN and I cried all night at the relief of finally finding someone like me after years of feeling alone,” Robinson said during the Ted Talk.

“But this relief was ripped from me when I got to school the next day to find him and his friends there pointing and laughing at me”

“I realised my first coming out experience had been taken away from me forever as a kind of prank to out me.”

Protest Resonates With Students

Image: Instagram

Within the last 24 hours, Robinsons post has gone viral on Instagram and the photographer has shared messages on his Instagram story, of people thanking him for his protest.

“Saw your post about St Kevin’s and it really resonated with me as a current closeted (year 12 so can’t wait to get the fuck out in a couple weeks) student,” one person said in a message to Robinson.

“The schools obsession with public image (without actually doing anything to help public image that matters?) caused me to repress who I was and made me hate who I was. I am openly queer, but due to the schools anti-LGBTQIA+ agenda I was unable to recognise this without hating myself until after school,” another person messaged. 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

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