LGBT+ news platform Gay Star News to close amid rise of 'rainbow washing'

News has been met with messages of sadness and support across social media.

Gay Star News: founded in 2012
Gay Star News: founded in 2012

Gay Star News is closing down due to Brexit pressures and increasing LGBT+ tokenism from brands, the news platform said.

The news was broken by BBC News LGBT correspondent Ben Hunte, who posted on Twitter that the business was entering insolvency, with about 20 staff losing their jobs. Employees were also told that they would not be paid their final month's salary.

Based in London, with offices in the US and Asia-Pacific, Gay Star News was founded in 2012 by director of creative partnerships Scott Nunn and chief executive and editor-in-chief Tris Reid-Smith.

Reid-Smith confirmed the news to Campaign, adding that efforts were being made to recompense staff. The Gay Star News site has since posted an article explaining the decision.

In a joint statement, Reid-Smith and Nunn said: "We entered 2019 with every reason to be confident we were going to have a strong year. But as the year progressed, decisions have been delayed and projects people had committed to do with us have fallen flat."

They cited dwindling confidence among brands due to Brexit uncertainty, but added: "There has also been another trend which has become more apparent this year. Brands which are wishing to ‘do’ LGBTI work are increasingly doing so in a tokenistic way.

"Rather than working with us to engage and serve LGBTI people year round, many have chosen to ‘rainbow wash’. They have turned their logo rainbow colored for Pride week or month and – at best – made a small donation to an LGBTI good cause. Worst still, we have learned that some brands have done this while at the same time funding anti-LGBTI politicians to the tune of millions of dollars. Tokenism has reached a new low."

But the founders did express gratitude to some "noble exceptions", clients and sponsors that "took a risk on us".

Since news of the closure broke, support has been widespread on social media. Hunte’s tweet breaking the story gained responses from the likes of Today programme presenter Evan Davis.


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