• Ben Pechey

Receipt Activism

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Oh hello darling, and welcome back to Pride season on benpechey.com. Over the next weeks, I will bring you narratives that centre and focus on the LGBTQIA+ community. Today I want to look at the activism landscape and the way we are causing fractures within our own community.


Working in the public sphere as an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community is very important to me. It is something that makes me feel like I am making a change on this rock orbiting the sun. It is a tough game to play, and one of the worst aspects is the way online advocates and activists are being subjected to receipt activism.



Receipt activism is a term that describes the people who wait in the wings with apparent history to pull you down when you make a mistake. This can look like lots of different things. It can be tweets you sent in 2011 or a sponsored post you made in 2018. These apparent "glaring mistakes" are piled up and held by these people, to be brought out at the moments when you are celebrating something, or just having a decent day.


I can see some strains of this action having a basis of positive change, but only to a point. As public figures we are accountable for our actions. This is the only element in receipt activism that makes any sense at all. Beyond that, it is just very damaging behaviour.



History is one of those things that are very difficult to police- because it has already happened. We all make choices based on the information we have at the time, and of course, over time, that approach will change as we evolve as people. To use someone’s history against them is like expecting a sat-nav from 2008 to have all the latest maps and traffic information - pointless, and very out of touch!


No one has all the answers, and none of us assumes we’re perfect. However, the fact that so many people show that they are constantly doing the work, learning and absorbing different perspectives shows growth. That growth is far more important than supposed constant perfection. Imperfect people make better content because their growth has allowed them to learn and develop, and that is so important.



What is also frustrating about this kind of false accountability, is that it makes it even harder for those who are using their platform for good. Policing in this fashion makes the waters of activism seem murkier than they are, and tars us all with the same shady brush. I don’t think many people stop and look at the bigger picture, but this kind of in-fighting is exactly what brands, organisations, and governments use as excuses to take marginalised communities less seriously.


This kind of behaviour is so shitty - especially in the LGBTQIA community - as it causes fractures in the community we have worked so hard to forge. We need to be seeking out unity, not to be tearing ourselves apart, otherwise, we will never truly move forwards as a community. So keep an eye out for receipt activism, and make sure you avoid this kind of behaviour!


Thank you so much for joining me, as always, I love you lots like jelly tots, until next time, uh buh bye.


Shot by Rachel Pechey