Chronology

A chronology of lesbian and gay communities, movements, and venues in Sydney

1920s

 

1930s

 

1940s

 

1950s

 

1960 - 1966

1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

 

 

 

 

 

Australian society in the late 1960s was hostile to homosexuals or, at least, its institutions were. The Law treated gay men as criminals who could be locked away for 14 years for the “abominable crime of buggery”, and the police were active in trying to prosecute them.

Image not available

Coming Out Into a Hostile World

Francesca (Chesca) Curtis's television appearance on The Bailey File, a Melbourne-based current affairs programme on commercial television TV's Channel 9, in May or June 1970, speaking about the aims of the Australian Lesbian Movement was arguably Australia's first "coming out" in the media.

Image not available

Australia's First National Coming Out

Homosexual/transgender social groups began forming in the early 1960s in Sydney. They offered membership of a discreet “camp” organisation. Their dances provided the perfect stage for Sydney’s new amateur drag scene to flourish and a place for men and women to meet up and find Miss or Mr Right – at least for the night. In the Leichhardt area, there was no shortage of public halls for these groups.

Image not available

Leichhardt/Dykehardt Exhibition

Male homosexual acts are no longer criminal in NSW – the law was amended in 1984, and ‘gay’ men can live quite open lives, with a range of venues where they can socialize in ways similar to their heterosexual counterparts. Also, the two worlds now softly collide, with gays and straights mixing together quite easily in many places in Sydney’s inner suburbs.

Image not available

And The Beats Go On...

The following people participated in the first Mardi Gras and/or the related events . While every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy, the list could include errors and omissions. Some names are also likely to be the arrestees' aliases.

78ers Honour Roll

 

1920s 

In the aftermath of the 'Great War' of 1914-18 and its horrors, Europe saw many reactions including a period of liberation and reform.

It was the era of jazz, of new art movements like Cubism and Dadaism to name just two, the cabaret scene typified by '20s Berlin, the 'blue stockings' of the women's movements, and of major advances in thinking about sex and sexuality as seen in the work of Magnus Hischfield in Berlin, of Norman Haire in Sydney and London, Krafft-Ebbing, Carpenter.


 

 1920s venues

These camp venues are named in Garry Wotherspoon’s Gay Sydney: A History (2016) (GW). References are also made to his book, Being Different (1986).

Venue

Details

Black Ada’s Academy School of Dancing

This was a major Saturday night venue for homosexuals, in a dimly lit large studio with a dance floor lined with tables.  Admittance only if Ada knew you. Wentworth Avenue. (GW source:B Warren, “The Good Old Days of Kamp”, Campaign 53, May 1980). Not listed in phone directory.

Latin Cafe

Run by Madam Helen Pura, it attracted a wide spectrum of society, including a large homosexual clientele. (GW source: Interview with Madam Pura 1979). Listed in the phone directory from 1927 – 1956 at No.1, 2nd Floor Royal Arcade, between Market and Park Streets.

Mockbell’s Restaurant

GW notes it was a venue frequented by (male) artists and bohemians. (GW source: J. Lindsay The Roaring Twenties Penguin 1980). The phone directory lists “Mockbell Kabell, Mecca Coffee Houses” from 1925. In 1949 a Mockbells Restaurant was at 53 Castlereagh Street until 1954.

Shalimar Restaurant

A middle class restaurant, with musicians playing light music. Downstairs in the old T & G Insurance Building cnr Elizabeth and Park Streets. (GW source: Interview with Ian D, September 1977). Listed in the 1950 phone directory and was still operating in the 1960s.

Updated: John Witte 2 September 2016