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





If not in Sydney


January 2002


The Attorney General Daryl Williams, appeals a Family Court ruling of October 2001 that recognised the rights of a transgendered person to legally marry his female partner.

1 Jan 2002


PRIDE’s NYE party Superheroes party at Fox Studios is attended by 6,500 a number less than expected

6 Jan 2002


Rodney Thorpe, former Mardi Gras festival director and gay activist dies.

26 Jan 2002


Drag performer, Joyce Maynge wins the Miss Overall Best and Fairest title at the Sydney Fringe Festival Bondi Drag Race Meet.

February 2002


Queer Express an exhibition of young artists aged 12 – 25 is held at the Seymour Centre.

2 Feb 2002


ACON launches On Any Street, a new safety campaign for the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project.

8 Feb 2002


A 20,000 crowd attend the launch of the 2002 Mardi Gras season on the Opera House steps.

10 Feb 2002


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Report, Meet the Parents: A Review of the Research on Lesbian and Gay Families is launched by Kerryn Phelps.

15 Feb 2002


The inaugural Velocity Party for young people is held at Mortuary Station.

March 2002


ACON offers an advisory code of practice to sex-on-premises venues aimed at setting health and well being standards.

March 2002


Slit, a new Sydney based lesbian sex magazine is launched.

2 Mar 2002


An estimated 550,000 spectators watch the 24th annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. 19,000 partied on at Fox Studios.

12 Mar 2002


Federal Senator Hefferman, using Parliamentary Privilege, alleges Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court misused his Commonwealth Government car privileges and solicited young male prostitutes who worked the Wall in Darlinghurst.

12 Mar 2002


Activist, Gary Burns receives a judgement in his case against a former neighbour’s harassment. Only one incident cited constitutes Homosexual Vilification and he is awarded a letter of apology and $1,000.

17 Mar 2002


The Melbourne based Roman Catholic activist group, the Rainbow Sash Movement, holds its first Sydney meeting.

April 2002


In a press statement, convenor of Country Labor, Tony Kelly criticises the new leader of the NSW opposition, John Brogden and his call for an equal age of consent for gay men.

April 2002


The Damanhour 5, five men arrested on 15 January for suspected consensual homosexual sex and convicted on March 11 are cleared by an Egyptian Appeals Court.

April 2002


Michael Primrose wins the 2002 Leatherperson of the Year.

April 2002


David Austin’s proposal for a gay male sauna at 300 Pitt Street is rejected by the City of Sydney on planning grounds.

16 April 2002


Anti-Discrimination Board President, Chris Puplick gives an impromptu critique of politicians’ and community leaders’ complacency in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights at the Gay and Lesbian Business Association tribute dinner to Justice Michael Kirby.

18 April 2002


The Full Bench of the High Court unanimously dismisses the challenge by the Catholic Church to the Federal Court’s McBain Decision (that infertility treatments cannot be restricted on the basis of marital status). Prime Minister Howard announces he will legislate to exempt IVF services from the Sex Discrimination Act.

19 April 2002

Chenna (Madras)

Indian HIV activist Ashok Pillai dies.

21 April 2002


7,500 visitors enjoy Leather Pride’s 11th annual Forbes Street Fair.

27 April 2002


Sydney Leather Pride’s Inquisition X at Fox Studios.

29 April 2002


Members of Sex and Gender Education Foundation (SAGE) meet with the NSW Attorney General’s Department to discuss legislative reform to improve the legal and human rights of the gender diverse community.

May 2002


Gay men’s sauna, Ken’s At Kensington (aka Ken’s Karate Klub) celebrates its 30th anniversary.

May 2002


OutFM President Sean Crillen, calls on Sydney’s gay and lesbian community to support its application for a full time AM licence.

May 2002


Greg Fisher charged with making improper use of his position as a company officer of the Satellite Group, takes the stand at the Downing Centre Courts. The trial is aborted and relisted for 19 August 2002.

4-5 May 2002


Young Labor passes a resolution in support of equal age of consent in NSW of 16.

6 May 2002


Openly gay anti-immigration Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn is assassinated by an environmental activist.

6 May 2002


Paul Capsis and Judi Connelli win major awards at the second Helpmann Awards.

11 May 2002


Police return to Oxford Street pubs with random drug sniffer dog searches.

21 May 2002


The NSW Council for Civil Liberties and the Redfern Legal Centre launch an SMS alert service, a key feature of which is

June 2002


Rainbow Labor, a GLBT special interest group for ALP members is formed at the NSW State ALP Conference.

June 2002


Uniting Network for GLBT Christians convene the Daring to Celebrate Conference. Dorothy McRae McMahon is the guest speaker.

8 June 2002


Only 3,000 attend the last Hand in Hand dance party Playground, held at Fox Studios. The ACON fundraiser will be dropped as a result of rising costs of public liability insurance.

19 June 2002


Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will post a loss of $530,000 this financial year. The loss is caused by insurance hikes and shrinking returns from Festival events and parties.

24 June 2002


Pride Week 2002 Rhythm of Our Rights is launched at the Gilligans Bar at the Oxford Hotel.

25 June 2002


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby encourages community members to send NSW Premier, Bob Carr NSW: The Last State postcards registering their concern about the slow pace of gay and lesbian reform.

29 June 2002


The 3rd annual Aurora Group dinner raises more than $40,000 for gay and lesbian organisations.

July 2002


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby receives a grant from the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW to fund the third phase of its gay and lesbian parenting campaign which had began in 2000.

July 2002


QueerScreen President Pip Newling, says her organisation will survive, despite the financial woes of the Mardi Gras. It will do this by curtailing its activities and seeking corporate or community sponsorship.

July 2002


The European Convention on Human Rights finds the UK in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights for failing to legally recognise transsexual Christine Goodwin as a woman.

July 2002


Sean Crellin, OutFM president, applies for a community AM radio licence.

July 2002


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby report an encouraging response to their latest campaign to send “DSCRMN8” postcards to the Premier, Bob Carr, to move him on promises of law reform.

July 2002


Tobin Saunders a.k.a. Vanessa Wagner, and boxer Anthony Mundine are the first evictees from celebrity Big Brother.

July 2002


People receiving HIV/AIDS rent subsidies will not be forced into public housing after a meeting with HIV lobby groups and the NSW Department of Housing.

3 July 2002


A nationally televised fund raising campaign, “Just a dollar a day”, to build community action against HIV/AIDS is launched by the AIDS Trust of Australia.

4 July 2002


After a $538,000 end of year financial loss, the SGLMG receives bank approval for a $250,000 overdraft, thus saving the organisation from voluntary administration. Seven organisations and individuals are guarantors for the over draft.

11 July 2002


A ground breaking ruling handed down by the Ontario Superior Court deems it “unconstitutional” not to allow same sex couples the right to a marriage licence.

30 July 2002


A $400,000 private loan that was to prop up SGLMG, is withdrawn placing the organisation on the brink of voluntary administration.

31 July 2002


Judith Fletcher is appointed acting chief executive officer of the Sydney 2002 Gay Games, in the wake of Geoffrey Williams’ resignation.

August 2002


Sydney Pride Centre announces an end of year financial loss of $47,000, attributable to declining dance party attendances and rising costs for their public liability and professional indemnity insurance policies.

August 2002


Hatred, Murder And Male Honour: Anti-Homosexual Homicides in NSW 1980-2000, written by Stephen Tomsen and published by the Australian Institute of Criminology, is released.

August 2002


The Mardi Gras board is forced to withdraw their proposal to keep the organisation in community hands when an unsecured $1.2 million Vodafone 3 year sponsorship deal falls through. A community coalition consisting of Pride, ACON, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and Queer Screen assess options to ensure Mardi Gras remains under community ownership.

August 2002


New co-convenors, Somali Ghosh and Andrew Pickles are appointed at the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby AGM.

2 Aug 2002


The SGLMG moves into voluntary administration with administrators Sims Lockwood overseeing meetings with private companies seeking to buy Mardi Gras for commercial interests and community consortiums seeking to keep the organisation in community hands.

12 Aug 2002


Trudi Valentine wins Entertainer of the Year, Courtney Act the DIVA Rising Star and Amelia Airhead the Miss Congeniality Award at the 12th DIVAs.

19 Aug 2002


South Australian lesbian Labor senator Penny Wong takes her place in the Australian Senate.

21 Aug 2002


Simon Watts takes over as executive director of Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.

27 Aug 2002


Pride announces it would take up the licence to run this year’s Sleaze Ball.

28 Aug 2002


SGLMG directors refute administrators, Sims Lockwood’s claim, that the board was guilty of insolvent trading since mid-March.

31 Aug 2002


A community forum supports the community celebrating Mardi Gras for future events regardless of whether the trademarks are bought by a private bidder.

Sept 2002


Community broadcaster, Channel 31 begins a weekly one hour show with a gay, lesbian and transgender focus.

Sept 2002


Rowan Williams, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, backs church doctrine and condemns homosexual relationships.

Sept 2002


Debate to equalise the age of consent is postponed and referred to the NSW Upper House’s Social Issues Committee to prepare a report for the attorney general.

Sept 2002


SGLMG administrators, Sims Lockwood, support a new Deed of Company Arrangement (DCA) put forward by the board of SGLMG that will see New Mardi Gras buy assets of SGLMG.

4 Sept 2002


The Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Relationships) Bill, designed to change the wording of acts of parliament that were written before same-sex and de facto couples’ rights were recognised, passes the NSW Upper House.

11 Sept 2002


A “new” Mardi Gras, the initiative of community groups and “key community members” is formed, and a caretaker board is appointed.

18 Sept 2002


The Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Relationships) bill, aimed at equalising the rights of de facto and same sex relationships, passes the NSW Parliament.

21 Sept 2002


Sniffer Dog teams raid venues along Oxford Street. 25 people are charged with drug-related offences.

30 Sept 2002


SGLMG creditors agree for key assets of the organisation to be bought by New Mardi Gras for $349,000.

Oct 2002


Gay man, Brian Greig takes over the leadership of the Australian Democrats party.

Oct 2002


Bligh state election candidate, Gary Burns launches a “No (sniffer) Dogs” campaign.

Oct 2002


A church inquiry into allegations Dr George Pell, had molested a 12 year old boy in 1961 or 1962, is ‘not satisfied’ that the complaint had been established.

Oct 2002


The NSW Ice Skating Association tells its members to stay away from the Gay Games or become ineligible to participate in other events or be members of the NSWISA.

Oct 2002

Broken Hill

A motion calling on the NSW government to amend the discriminatory age of consent legislation is passed at the annual conference of the NSW Local Government Association.

1 Oct 2002


The Safe Place Program is launched by ACON’s Anti-Violence Project. Stickers identify a business as a safe haven if they feel threatened.

5 Oct 2002


7,000 attend Pride’s 2002 Sleaze Ball, In Uniform at the Hordern Pavilion  and Dome.

15 Oct 2002


New Mardi Gras begins planning a smaller than usual 2003 festival.

23 Oct 2002


New Mardi Gras receives a $45,000 one-off grant, putting the organisation in a strong position to make its first contract payment on time.

24 Oct 2002


Harry Hay, considered a founder of the American gay movement, dies aged 90.

24 Oct 2002


The Gay Games cultural festival is launched at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

25 Oct 2002


Despite rising public liability insurance costs, the Reclaim the Night rally goes ahead.

31 Oct 2002


The second international Workers Out! Conference of lesbian and gay trade union representatives calls on the Education International and the Public Services International to create a forum on LGBTI worker issues.

Nov 2002


Just Sensational! Queer Histories of Western Sydney – an exhibition of queer histories of western Sydney opens at the Liverpool Regional Museum.

Nov 2002


A new HIV vaccine that delivers genetic information from the HIV virus into the skin to stimulate the immune response is to be trialled in 2003.

Nov 2002


Skool’s Out, a report on experiences of homophobic bullying in schools by the Anti-Discrimination Board is released.

Nov 2002


The Belgian Senate approves a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry.

1 Nov 2002


Hello Kitty, an event where four Asian-Australian writers, Andy Quan, William Yang, Tony Ayres and Natasha Cho, read from their work and sing karaoke.

2 Nov 2002


Eight days of competition are launched at Gay Games IV opening ceremony at the Aussie Stadium. Highlights include Justice Michael Kirby’s opening speech, the indigenous creation spirit Biame, the parade of heroes and the pom-pom stunt

3 Nov 2002


Rainbow Labor holds its first major conference at Sydney University.

3 Nov 2002


The entire Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt goes on display at the Darling Harbor Convention Centre.

9 Nov 2002


The Sydney Gay Games IV ends with a closing ceremony Corroboree. Alice Hoglan, the mother of Mark Bingham a player with the San Franciscan Rugby team, and who died during terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, acknowledges a standing ovation.

24 Nov 2002


The ceiling of the first floor crashes onto the dance floor of the Stonewall Hotel, injuring 16 people.

24 Nov 2002


Sex workers Saul and Erica, members of the Sex Outworkers Project (SWOP) receive awards at the World AIDS Day Awards for their lobbying and volunteering work.

Dec 2002


Sydney 2002 Gay Games administrator RSM Bird Cameron Partners, tell a meeting of 150 creditors that they are investigating where the money went and when the company went under.

Dec 2002


The board of New Mardi Gras, drops “Gay and Lesbian” from the parade name, intending to make the event more inclusive and that after 25 years, the parade “speaks for itself”.

2 Dec 2002


The Sydney 2002 Gay Games is placed in voluntary administration and faces possible liquidation, after making a loss of $1.5 to $2.5 million.

Dec 2002


Under changes recommended by the Minister for Social Exclusion and Equalities, UK same sex couples will be able to sign a contract and have their relationship recognised.

2 Dec 2002


Caesars Bar closes after the death of its licensee and director, David Mack.

20 Dec 2002


The last Harbour City Bears event at the Beresford Hotel is held, before the hotel is re-developed in early 2003

Updated: 11 January 2015