Throwback: in 2014, the Star Observer celebrated its 35th anniversary – with Israel Folau

Throwback: in 2014, the Star Observer celebrated its 35th anniversary – with Israel Folau
Image: Folau, as photographed by Ann-Marie Calilhanna, as he appeared within the issue's pages.

Ahead of our special, commemorative 40th Anniversary issue coming out this week, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane and take a peek at our 35th anniversary issue, published in 2014.

Though the Star Observer‘s anniversary falls in July, our 35th anniversary publication was our August 2014 issue – until 2018, the monthly issues of the Star Observer went to print halfway through the preceding month.

The August 2014 issue’s cover, however, merely mentioned our 35th anniversary instead of centred on it. The main attraction? None other than our best friend Israel Folau, and actual ally Adam Ashley-Cooper.

By now, you’ve certainly all seen the cover, which featured the two sportspeople emblazoned with the words ‘BIG BOYS AND THEIR BALLS’. Cheeky.

We recently tried to remind Israel of the cover, wondering where it all went wrong. We don’t know if he saw it though, he blocked us on Twitter.

Folau didn’t actually make any comments in the article, but a Bingham Cup spokesperson said that “Israel is a strong advocate for ending all forms of discrimination in sport.”

“He does a lot of work in that space,” they claimed.

In an essay published on PlayersVoice, where Folau is a founding contributor, he wrote that he is “not the type to upset people intentionally.”

“Since my social media posts were publicised, it has been suggested that I am homophobic and bigoted and that I have a problem with gay people. This could not be further from the truth.

I fronted the cover of the Star Observer magazine to show my support for the Bingham Cup, which is an international gay rugby competition for both men and women. I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.”

This was before Folau’s more recent transgressions, however, which have seen him lose his Rugby Australia contract and launch legal action over his sacking.

You can read former editor Elias Jahshan on the Folau cover and his time at the Star Observer in our new issue.

A lot has changed in the past five years, but a lot hasn’t changed at all. Also covered in the 35th anniversary edition are issues still reverberating in the community today.

From LGBTI youth homelessness and mental health struggles, to the stigma around queer sex work, and forced trans divorce, an issue only settled in most states and territories in the wake of marriage equality.

The full 35th anniversary issue is available to read online by clicking here.

Our forthcoming 40th Anniversary edition will look back even further and examine the change the Star Observer has witnessed over the past 40 years of its history.

We’ll look at how the issues have changed, where we are now, and where we’re headed in the future.

The Star Observer‘s 40th Anniversary issue goes to print today, and will be available on streets and online from Thursday July 18.

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