Last-minute fluke leads to state award win by 17-year-old
"Right now, the global temperature average is said to be about 15 degrees Celsius and the current population of gays around the world is about 15%. Is that a coincidence? I don't think so," says the winner of the annual state-wide Literary Competition, Courtney Smith, 17.
She's kidding, of course. But that's the point of her satirical non-fiction feature 'Greenhouse gay emissions'; it's a targeted hit at the far-right's propaganda about gay rights and global warming.
Originally written for an English assignment, the satirical piece was submitted by the Rockhampton Girls Grammar student as a last-minute fluke.
"I've basically said that global warming and the population of gay people in Australia and the world everywhere is interlinked," Ms Smith said.
"I've linked it to how with all the gay propaganda out there - flags, clothing - by using non-sustainable material to make these you make more greenhouse gases which then in turn heats up the planet, leading to more gay people, leading to more propaganda. And in the end, there's only gay people and the population drops and goes back to being cooler and the cycle continues."
A double-edged sword, the clever, sarcastic piece takes a timely and critical jab at homophobia - particularly with the current gay marriage vote happening in Australia - and at global warming conspiracies.
It also illuminates the danger behind influential social media commentators such as President Trump.
"It's sort of how the media has become an extremely prominent presence in what we think and how we think about things. And particularly his [President Trump's] personal belief on how global warming isn't [real].
"He seems to be such a prominent figure and him saying these things can actually influence people to believe these things that aren't true," Ms Smith said.
Ms Smith, who aspires to complete a Bachelor of Medicine or Surgery at James Cook University (JCU), has a love for writing, but was shocked at the positive attention her article received.
"I really didn't think much of it... I'm a bit embarrassed it's gotten this much coverage."
Ms Smith walked away from the competition in Brisbane on October 11 with $300 in prize money, a certificate, and a book from Penguin Publishing house.
The talented student believes that literary competitions like these are important in opening doors for aspiring writers and giving students confidence in their writing abilities.
The big win grabbed the attention of JCU, who sponsored the competition and sent Professor Stephen Torre to judge the entrees.
"This brilliant piece makes one laugh, makes one think, and makes one laugh again, as silly ideas are sliced from the body of public opinions with one brilliant stroke of the pen," Professor Torre said.
Ms Smith hopes her article will make people think about what they're consuming in the media and encourage them to use critical thinking when they hear something about topics such as global warming.
"The media is a great tool to fight social injustice. Everyone consumes some form of media every day.
"I'm really grateful for the professor who actually judged my work because he said such lovely things... I didn't actually get to meet him because he wasn't there."