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









1960 - 1966























































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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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





Jan 96


The first openly gay member of any Australian Parliament, NSW MLC, Paul O’Grady resigns.

Jan 96


The Keep (formerly the Stronghold), the popular gay leather bar at the Clock Hotel in Surry Hills closes.

Jan 96


Derek Williams and Jacqui Griffin are the new co-convenors of the Gay and Lesbian Teachers and Students’ Association.

Jan 96


The Woods Royal Commission into Corruption in the NSW Police Force hears accusations of recreational drug use and dealing among Sydney’s gay and lesbian police officers, from a former Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO).

4 Jan 96


Ronald James Handley a.k.a. Fanny Farquar dies.

Feb 96


A lesbian teacher allegedly bashed and vilified by students at inner city Cleveland Street High School, takes her complaint to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (ADB).

Feb 96


Michael Hurley’s A Guide to Gay and Lesbian Writing in Australia is launched at the State Theatre.

Feb 96


Tony Ayres’s anthology, String of Pearls, Stories About Cross-Dressing, is launched at the State Theatre.

Feb 96


Gary Burns, barman (sic) at the Gladesville Bowling and Sports Club asks the ADB to investigate his allegations that members had made anti-homosexual and AIDS jibes and the Club’s management had not taken the matter seriously.

Feb 96


SGLMG Film Festival short film awards are made to three lesbian films with prizes made possible from the bequest of the late Stephen Cummings.

Feb 96


The Australian Gaymes is held at various Sydney locations.

8 Feb 96


The Lesbian Space Project (LSP) purchases a building in Bedford Street Newtown.

11 Feb 96


Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) Fair Day is held at

18 Feb 96


Gay film maker Richard Turner screens his new movie Violet’s Visit at a People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and Anti-Violence Project fundraiser.

24 Feb 96


Word of Mouth IV performance night is held at Sydney Park, St Peters.

25 Feb 96


Over 100 people attend Convert That Anger rally at Taylor Square over increased street violence against lesbians and gay men.

Mar 96


A new refuge for homeless gay and lesbian youth to be run by 2010, is opened in Glebe by the State Minister for Housing Craig Knowles.

Mar 96


State Member of the Legislative Council Fred Nile announces he intends to sue participants of the Queer Collaborations float in the recent mardi gras parade which depicted him as a caged animal complete with artificial genitalia.

Mar 96


Tourism NSW announces that the SGLMG had generated about $40 million for Australian business.

Mar 96


Justice James Wood announces the Royal Commission’s inquiry into paedophilia.

Mar 96


Gary Miller makes a submission to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal (EOT) claiming that he had been harassed over his sexuality in his job as a Qantas engineer.

Mar 96


Kimberley O’Sullivan, editor of lesbian sexuality magazine, Wicked Women, resigns throwing its future into doubt.

Mar 96


The Gay and Lesbian Teachers and Students (GaLTaS) group calls on private education bodies to run police checks on all teachers before they are employed.

Mar 96


State Corrective Services Minister, Bob Debus announces that a trial of condom vending machines are now installed in some NSW prisons.

Mar 96


Gay and lesbian groups meet to discuss strategies to counter a possible anti-gay backlash arising from the NSW Police Royal Commission inquiry into police protection of paedophiles.

Mar 96


Gay and Lesbian Perspectives III is launched by Vanessa Wagner

2 Mar 96


A record crowd of 650,000 people turn out to watch the .... annual SGLMG Parade.

2 Mar 96


A Federal Liberal Government is elected.

5 Mar 96


The decision by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to restrict funding for new HIV treatment drugs 3TC and d4T to people with less a T cell count of 500 is attacked by AIDS organisations.

April 96


Carlotta launches her new show, Carlotta and Her Beautiful Boys at the Eastern Suburbs Leagues Club.

April 96


3TC, a new anti-viral drug manufactured by Glaxo Wellcome which promises to reduce the level of HIV in the bloodstream and boost CD4 counts when used in conjunction with AZT, is launched.

1 April 96


Newtown Gym closes, leaving members out of pocket.

13-14 April 96


Hosted by the Coalition of Activist Lesbians (COAL) and Playback Theatre, Lesbian Rights Are Human Rights forum raises current issues affecting lesbians.

16 April 96


Poverty Sucks, a public meeting is held at Heffron Hall in Darlinghurst to figure out ways to address poverty among people living with HIV/AIDS.

19 April 96


TAP Gallery forum on sexuality discrimination hears speakers, Norrie May Welby, John Fowler, James Scanlon, Bronte Morris and Jac Vidgen.

27 April 96


An Extraordinary General Meeting of SGLMG votes for to 2 classes of membership, with non-homosexuals and transgenders having to provide reasons for their membership.

May 96


Anonymous satirical newsletter, The Daily Plague, comes under legal scrutiny after accusations are levelled at former art gallery owner, Barry Stern.

May 96


AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) asks the Health Department to investigate 5 gay sex clubs that it claims fail to meet minimum standards of hygiene, fail to provide free condoms, lubricant and safe sex information.

May 96


Independent Councillors of South Sydney Council, John Fowler and John Bush react to the new membership rules of SGLMG, by questioning the sizable grant the Council gives SGLMG by claiming the organisation is no longer “inclusive”.

May 96


The AIDS and Communicable Diseases Branch of the Federal Health Department is disbanded and its budget re-allocated to HIV/AIDS programs spread across 3 newly formed divisions.

May 96


The chair of the Uniting Church’s report on sexuality, Interim Report on Sexuality, with its supportive stance on homosexuality is attacked with abusive phone calls and hate mail.

1 May 96


Australian Capital Territory probate laws are amended to recognise lesbian, gay and de facto couples.

7 May 96


Channel 7’s Witness program The Dark Side is broadcast and contains pederast allegations against Sydney lawyer, John Marsden.

9-12 May 96


The 13th annual International Gay Travel Association (IGTA) is held at the Southern Cross Hotel.

18 May 96


The Lesbian Space Project (LSP) holds its first open day at its Bedford Street premises.

19 May 96


The annual Candlelight AIDS Memorial rally starts in Green Park and ends in the Domain and is addressed by Justice Michael Kirby.

23 May 96


Sydney Star Observer produces a lengthy Special Report on the Police Royal Commission – Witch Hunt or Justice?

23 May 96


Activists meet with Counsel assisting the Police Royal Commission to raise their concerns about the Commission’s “anti-homosexual bias” and are dissatisfied with her response.

25 May 96


Poverty Sux Food Drive collects food and raises money for people living with HIV/AIDS.

June 96


Unions and the Anti-Violence Project (AVP) meet to formulate a training package designed to deal with discrimination and harassment against gays and lesbians in the workplace.

June 96


A new AIDS drug Saquinavir is subsidised by the Federal Government for people with a CD4 count of 500 or less.

June 96


The Crossroads Tolerance Report a report on the services for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Sutherland Shire residents reveals discrimination, lack of support services and isolation in the area.

June 96


Police raid the homes of up to 10 gay men as part of the ongoing NSW Royal Commission investigations into police corruption and protection of paedophiles.

June 96


A major insurance company settles with Peter Thompson after he filed a complaint with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) against it for refusing to provide any kind of insurance for him because he was perceived as having a high risk of getting AIDS.

2 June 96


Crisis community meeting on the Police Royal Commission is held at the Oxford Koala Hotel and a Commission Watch Group is established

5 June 96


The Transgender (Anti-Discrimination and Other Acts) Bill passes the upper house of the NSW Parliament.

6 June 96


Rainbow.Net, a national gay, lesbian and queer Internet Service Provider is launched at the Exchange Hotel.

23 June 96


PRIDE week, a celebration of the Greenwich Village Stonewall Riots, commences.

28 June 96


G Spot, a Friday night girls’ club at Top Gun, Newtown starts up.

July 96


The Federal Attorney-General’s Department tells the Commonwealth Health Insurance Commission (HIC) to allow access to subsidised gender specific drugs for people who have undergonegender re-assignment surgery.

July 96


Caesar’s Bar opens in the Petersham Inn Hotel, 388 Parramatta Road, Petersham.

July 96


AIDS groups urge HIV positive people to begin combination drug therapy as soon as possible.

July 96


The University of Sydney agrees lift a ban and to allow students with HIV and/or hepatitis to complete degrees in medicine, nursing and health sciences.

July 96


The Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) agrees to replace its job referral guidelines which made it mandatory for HIV positive clients to disclose their HIV status to employers applying for jobs with a “direct” or “potential” risk of transmission of HIV.

July 96


Australia’s largest department store chain, Myer-Grace Brothers changes their bridal registry to recognise same sex couples.

4 July 96


Forbidden Love, Bold Passion, an exhibition exploring the lives of lesbians over the last 90 years, begins its national tour.

10 July 96


Michael Glynn, founder of the Sydney Star dies.

11 July 96

New York

US AIDS specialist, Dr David Ho, announces detectable levels of HIV may be eliminated from the bloodstream after a 3 year course of combination drugs treatment.

Aug 96


The SGLMG announces its largest operating surplus to date of $221,000.

Aug 96


Dennis Watkins, SGLMG Festival Director resigns. He is later replaced by Jonathan Parsons.

Aug 96


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) releases its submission to the Senate inquiry into the Workplace Relations and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, 1996.

Aug 96


Gay escort agencies and men who use them to source under aged males for sex comes under the scrutiny of the Woods Royal Commission.

4 Aug 96

21 Oct 96


The State Attorney General, Jeff Shaw, launches the NSW Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project Youth Violence Prevention Campaign, Homophobia: What are you scared of? (twice)

10 Aug 96


Bev Lange is elected for a second term as President of the SGLMG.

16 Aug 96


A report by the NSW Attorney General recommends that judges and prosecutors receive more information about the “homosexual advance defence” and that his department launch a community education campaign to counter anti-gay prejudice and its influence on the criminal justice system.

19 Aug 96


Tickets go on sale for the 1996 Sleaze Ball, Voodoo Circus on 5 October. The poster is designed by Richard Hughes.

29 Aug 96


The Sydney Star Observer is now available on the web.

31 Aug 96


Steve Spaulding owner of the Greed Sisters Emporium one of the early gay shops in King Street, Newtown, closes up shop due to upmarket rents.

Sept 96


Simon Lloyd replaces outgoing GLRL male co-convenor, Keith Marshall.

8 Sept 96


Gay and Lesbian Memorial Project founder, Andrew Clark/Fletcher Jetspree alleges that the Project’s AGM decision to cease operation was “illegal”.

18 Sept 96


The Transgender Lobby Coalition (TLC) takes legal action against the Gender Centre after eight nominees in the Centres upcoming management committee elections were disallowed.

Oct 96


Team Sydney lodges a letter of intent with the Federation of Gay Games to hold the 2002 Gay Games with the support of PRIDE.

3-5 Oct 96


The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and the Australian Centre for Lesbian and Gay Research convene a national conference on queer health issues, Health in Difference. 300 attend.

5 Oct 96


The NSW Minister for Tourism and Transport, Brian Langton opens the Gay and Lesbian Lifestyle Consumer Expo at the Kingsgate Regency Hotel in Kings Cross. 2,000 attend.

5 Oct 96


16,000 attend the 1996 Sleaze Ball Voodoo Circus. Highlights were Lonnie Gordon, Peter Burns and his band Dead or Alive and live performance of Troughman.

11 Oct 96


The Federal Government contests the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC) decision which awarded at gay man spousal benefits for his partner.

24 Oct 96


Dominic O’Grady is appointed editor of the Sydney Star Observer.

Nov 96


The Annual Assembly of Young Lawyers votes unanimously to support initiatives outline in the Attorney General’s report, homosexual Advance Defence

Nov 96


Bill Whittaker, spokesperson for People Living with HIV/AIDS, criticises the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee for refusing the approval of an effective HIV drug, nevirapine.

Nov 96


Paul Phillips, a chef with Ansett Airlines, has his case of anti-gay violence in the workplace, referred to the Equal OpportunityTribunal for a hearing.

Nov 96


The PRIDE Centre steps in to discuss taking over the Gay and Lesbian Memorial Project.

Nov 96


700 people with HIV/AIDS rally at the Domain to protest against the Federal Government’s cuts to public housing.

Nov 96


The NSW Supreme Court rules against Jan Bell’s inheritance claim to the full estate of her late partner Diane Watson.

Nov 96


Lesbian and gay partners of murder victims are recognised as members of the victim’s immediate family under legislation passed by the NSW parliament.

3 Nov 96


The 22nd Polympics is held at Erskineville Oval, with over 400 people attending.

4 Nov 96


The Woods Police Royal Commission and Labor MLC Franca Arena are criticised for their roles in precipitating the suicide of former Supreme Court Judge David Yeldham.

15 Nov 96


Bill Brown and Andrew Whitbread-Brown celebrate their Supreme Court win in their long running battle with  insurance company NIB, The Court declares that they are entitled to NIB’s family insurance rate.

21 Nov 96


The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association launches Fruits in Suits at the Taylor Square Supper Bar.

29 Nov 96


800 people Rally Against Racism at Taylor Square in response to  MP Pauline Hanson’s attacks on multiculturalism and Aboriginal rights.

Dec 96


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby joins forces with trade unions and superannuation industry representatives to lobby for the Superannuation Industry (Supervison) Act to be changed to allow death benefits to be paid to the survivor in a same sex partnership.

Dec 96


Terry O’Gorman, President of the Australian Council of Civil Liberties condemns the NSW police Special Branch for keeping files on people solely on the basis of their sexuality.

10 Dec 96


South Sydney cuts Mardi Gras funding by $14,000 to $36,000 in the light of the SGLMG surplus this year.

18 Dec 96


 President of AFAO, Bill O’Loughlin welcomes the Third National HIV/AIDS Strategy following a commitment from Federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge to make a commitment to viral load testing by April 1997.

Updated: 31/3/13