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 2004


Rainbow Labor executive withdraws a motion at the ALP national conference enabling same sex relationships scheme because it was apparent it would be defeated.

1 Jan 2004


1600 attend Pride’s NYE party Kooky Karousel.

26 Jan 2004


Peter Trebilco is recognised for 40 years of service to the lesbian and gay and mainstream community with an OAM. Former president of PLWH/A (NSW) Phillip Medcalf is awarded an OAM posthumously.

February 2004


A Mardi Gras Festival photographic exhibition Walking the Same Streets documenting personal perceptions of fear and safety in Sydney is held at Pine Street Creative Arts.

February 2004


The Federation of Gay Games announces Chicago as the new host of the next Gay Games.

February 2004


Lesbian poet Dorothy Porter wins the SA Premier’s Award for Literature for her verse novel, Wild Surmise.

6 Feb 2004


The Mardi Gras season is launched in Hyde Park.

7 Feb 2004


David Hudson and Glen Hill become the first same sex couple to register their relationship with South Sydney Council.

12 Feb 2004

San Francisco

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom distributes same sex marriage licences.

22 Feb 2004


New Mardi Gras Fair Day attracts 75,000 people to Victoria Park, Camperdown.

23 Feb 2004


Monica Hingston and Reverend Dorothy McRae-McMahon voice their support for gay marriage at a Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association forum.

28 Feb 2004


The Practical Guide to Mental Hygiene art exhibition by Shaun Weston and Suzanne Boccalatte opens at Gallery Barry Keldoulis.

28 Feb 2004


The annual Bobby Goldsmith Foundation’s Shop Yourself Stupid is held in Oxford Street.

March 2004


DJ Seymour Butz launches a “gay make out album” Sauna Sessions at Ken’s at Kensington.

March 2004


The California Supreme Court orders the City of San Francisco to immediately stop marrying same sex couples.

March 2004


Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon launches a Private Member’s Bill aimed at removing exemptions to the Anti-Discrimination Act for private schools and businesses with fewer than six employees.

March 2004

New York

Brazil withdraws its proposed UN resolution to include sexual orientation into definitions of global human rights allegedly after pressure from conservative countries.

March 2004


Quebec’s Supreme Court rejects a bid by religious groups to have marriage declared a union solely between a man and a woman.

March 2004


Democrats Senator Brian Grieg attempts to amend the wording of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Bill to give equal rights to same sex couples to compensation, grief counselling and death benefits, fails.

4 March 2004


Federal health minister, Tony Abbott fails to appoint any HIV community representatives to the new Ministerial Advisory Committee on AIDS and sexual health.

6 March 2004


Monica Hingston, the lesbian cousin of Catholic Archbishop George Pell and partner Peg Moran are the 2004 chiefs of parade.

6 March 2004


Prime Minister John Howard in a talk-back radio interview speaks out against adoption rights for same sex couples.

6 March 2004


130 floats are cheered on by 250,000 spectators in persistent rain at this year’s Mardi Gras parade. 17,000 attend the post parade party.

24 March 2004


Eight drag queens protest at Myers store in the city against the ejection of Kirsten Damned from the store by police following complaints about how she was dressed.

27 March 2004


Independent Bligh MP, Clover Moore is elected the Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney.

31 March 2004


The L Word, a coap opera about a group of lesbians starts on Channel 7.

April 2004


A 13 year old girl, Alex is to begin undergoing sex-change treatment after a ruling by the Australian Family Court.

April 2004


Christian action group, Saltshakers, claim responsibility for five major advertisers dropping their ads from Channel 7’s show The L Word. These advertisers subsequently distant themselves from Saltshakers

April 2004


Zanzibar’s parliament passes a bill which will make homosexual sex illegal.

26 April 2004


Beat FM 87.6, a narrow cast, full time commercial radio station aimed at a GLBT audience, begins broadcasting.

May 2004


Cardinal Pell, arguing against gay marriage in The Australian, claims traditional marriage provides “a significantly lower danger of child abuse and murder” and “ significantly lower risks of infant mortality, substance abuse, depression and suicide.’”

May 2004


The International Olympic Committee rules to allow trans-sexual athletes to compete in the Olympic Games conditional upon legal recognition of their assigned gender and two years after gonadectomy.

9 May 2004


Jo King, leather designer and entrepreneur is named leather person of the year at the Leather Pride Week Fair at Prince Alfred Park.

11 May 2004


Channel 10 screens a UK reality show There’s something about Miriam starring a ‘trannie’ who dupes a group of straight guys. The Gender Centre claims the show exploits transsexuals.

15 May 2014


69 year old gay activist, Lance Gowland and the Flotilla of Hope sets sail to Nauru as a gesture of support to asylum seekers on the island.

15 May 2014


Leather Pride Week’s Inquisition XII is held at Fox Studios.

17 May 2004


Massachusetts becomes the first US state to legally issue same-sex marriage licences.

June 2004


38% of the general community are in favour of legalising same sex marriage according to an SBS news poll.

June 2004


HIV related treatment, post-exposure prophylaxis is discontinued at the Albion Street Centre and almost cut at St Vincent s Hospital when demand exhausts funding.

June 2004


The late Nick Enright and singer Judi Connelli are appointed Members of the Order of Australia for services to entertainment.

June 2004


Gay activist and skipper, Lance Gowland reports that the Flotilla of Hope protesting the Liberal government’s “Pacific Solution” is turned away from the island.

1 June 2004


Lesbian couple, Vicki Harding and Jackie Braw and daughter Brenna’s appearance on Play School’s Through the Windows segment on ABC TV is criticised by federal Children and Youth Affairs minister Larry Anthony who accuses the show of representing minorities and being too politically correct.

11 June 2004


The Dolphin Motorcycle Club celebrates 25 years with a series of weekend events.

12 June 2004


Queen’s Birthday weekend ACON fundraiser Big Queer Nation attracts 6,000 and raises $32,500.

15 June 2004


The federal government rejects the UN demand that Edward Young should be paid a widows pension, stating that Young did not provide sufficient evidence of his relationship with Larry Cain and that Cain’s death was war caused.

26 June 2004


750 attend a rally organised by NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, ACON, New Mardi Gras and the Sydney Pride Centre to protest in favour of equal relationship recognition before the law.

30 June 2004


The Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Choice of Superannuation Funds) Act 2004 is passed by the federal government and includes the term “interdependent relationship” which will include many same sex couples. It fails to cover government and public sector employees.

July 2004


UNAIDS reports that 38 million people were living with HIV and that three million had died from the illness in 2003, a record number.

July 2004


The Feminist Bookshop celebrates its 30th anniversary.

July 2004


Mission Australia is granted an exemption under the ADB Act by the ADB to be allowed to refuse services to transgender women at inner-city welfare centres.

July 2004


Ian Thorpe’s manager, David Flaskas dismisses media claims that Thorpe had taken offence at an artwork at the Gallery of Victoria that suggested he was gay. Thorpe had come out as hetero-sexual in 2002.

July 2004


Steph Sands is re-elected and Mark Orr chosen as co-chairs of New Mardi Gras.

July 2004


Pope John Paul II, in a letter to Roman Catholic bishops blames feminism for dissolving the difference between the sexes therefore making homosexuality and heterosexuality ‘virtually equivalent’.

13 July 2004


Protesters disrupt the XV International AIDS Conference calling for US drug company Pfizer to allow the production of generic versions of patented retro viral drugs in developing countries.

17 July 2004


The second Rainbow Umbrella Walk from Kirribilli across the harbour bridge to the Rocks is held.

17 July 2004


The Governor of NSW Marie Bashir officially opens the new offices of the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service and Twenty 10 in Bedford Street, Newtown.

21 July 2004


130 people attend a protest after Queensland AIDS Council lost its application to provide care for PLWH/As to the Anglican Church St Luke’s Nursing Service.

23 July 2004


Dykes on Bikes member, Debbie Gilbert’s short documentary The Wiradjuri – Fight to the Bitter End about the effects of mining in Lake Cowal is screened at Chauvel Cinema.

24 July 2004


The Pollynesian Social Club celebrates its 40th anniversary at a party at the University of NSW.

25 July 2004


The 30th Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Grove Tree Planting is held.

25 July 2004


A rally organised by Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) at Sydney Town Hall protests against the federal government ban on same-sex marriage and overseas adoption.

August 2004


The leaders of New Mardi Gras and Pride meet to discuss the possibility of a merger.

August 2004


California’s Supreme Court annuls more than 4,000 same sex marriages, ruling that the City violated State laws that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

August 2004


John Marsden’s autobiography I Am What I Am is published.

11 Aug 2004


Melbourne video producer, Steven King creates four television commercials protesting against the same sex marriage ban and hands copies of them to federal politicians before the vote takes place.

13 Aug 2004


The Marriage Act Amendment Legislation passes the Senate 38-7 with the support of the ALP, effectively banning same sex marriage.

24 Aug 2004

Iowa US

US Vice President Dick Cheney acknowledges his lesbian daughter when he states he does not support President Bush’s drive to ban same sex marriage.

26 Aug 2004


A 47hour sit-in protest at the function room in the Uni Centre Building by Wollongong University’s queer collective over demands for a new queer space, ends with police in riot gear storming the building and arresting three people.

30 Aug 2004


Sydney's Pride History Group is incorporated.

Sept 2004


Sydney based queer youth support web site Mogenic holds its first dance party in New York.

Sept 2004


In the absence of an official ACON campaign, sex club Signal, implements its own crystal meth information campaign. ACON CEO Stevie Clayton reveals federal funding for a drug campaign had been rejected in April.

Sept 2004


Page 8 a play based on the composer David Page’s life, is staged at the Belvoir Street Theatre.

Sept 2004


Marie Bashir AC, Governor of NSW volunteers at the Luncheon Club at the Gordon Ibbet Community Centre in Waterloo.

Sept 2004


The Gender Centre boycotts the ADB’s community consultation meetings accusing it of failing to consult with transgender people.

Sept 2004


Sex and the City star, Cynthia Nixon reveals she is in a same-sex relationship.

Sept 2004


Dorothy McRae-McMahon’s autobiography, Memoirs of Moving On: A Life of Faith, Passion and Resilience, is published.

Sept 2004


The first ACON crystal meth forum is held, sparking debate between researchers and the community.

26 Sept 2004


Queer Northside which organises Rainbow Umbrella Walks, holds a “celebration of northern delights” at 11 Alfred Street, Milsons Point.

30 Sept 2004


The House of Representatives fails to amend the US constitution to ban gay marriage by 49 votes.

Oct 2004


Bev Lange is appointed executive director of the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.

Oct 2004


The 13th Australian General Synod of the Anglican Church decides at its triennial meeting of delegates not to bless same-sex unions, ordain ministers in gay relationships or appoint women bishops.

Oct 2004


Dr Darren Russell tops The Bulletin magazine’s annual Smart 100 list in the health category for his work in HIV/AIDS.

Oct 2004


The Line of Beauty a gay novel by Alan Hollinghurst wins the Man Booker Prize.

Oct 2004


Jane Marsden is voted chairperson of the Aurora Group, replacing Bruce Pollock.

Oct 2004


The Gender Centre re-joins the Sex Gender Diversity Consultation Group after Stepan Kerkyasharian re-affirms his commitment to the gay and lesbian community.

Oct 2004


Labor Senator Penny Wong becomes Australia’s first openly gay politician to sit on federal parliament’s front bench.

Oct 2004


Australian Idol contestant, Anthony Callea declares “I’m not gay”.

1 Oct 2004


Spain’s government approves same-sex marriage and adoption to be made effective in 2005.

2 Oct 2004


10,000 attend the New Mardi Gras fund raising Sleaze Ball, with the theme Porn.

9 Oct 2004


The Federal Liberal Howard Government is re-elected.

30 Oct 2004


62,000 attend the annual Sydney Food and Wine Fair in Hyde Park helping raise $250,000 for the AIDS trust of Australia.

Nov 2004


The re-elected US President George W. Bush reveals plans to ban gay marriage nationwide.

Nov 2004


The Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia is formed, aimed to remedy under-funding of gay and lesbian health projects.

Nov 2004


David Scammell and Julie McDonnell are elected co-convenors of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.

Nov 2004


The US Supreme Court rejects an attempt by a conservative law group to overturn Massachusetts’s same sex marriage legislation.

Nov 2004


Oliver Stone’s epic movie Alexander which highlights the homosexual relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion, is released.

3 Nov 2004


The Deaf and Gay Association of NSW celebrates its 20th anniversary.

3 Nov 2004


Gay organisations call on 2UE radio announcer John Laws to publically apologise for his offensive’ remarks about visiting Queer Eye star Carson Cressley. Laws subsequently apologises.

18 Nov 2004


The Civil Partnerships Act is given Royal Assent, allowing same-sex couples in Britain to have their relationships legally recognised.

22 Nov 2004


The NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal rule that on-air comments by 2UE announcers John Laws and Steve Price about gay couple Gav and Waz of the reality show The Block constituted “homosexual vilification” and they must apologise.

25 Nov 2004


DJ and former Pride Director, Sioux Spears, dies.

30 Nov 2004


The Channel Nine Today TV sporting announcer, Sam Newman’s anti-gay comments lead to the program making a public apology after viewer complaints.

Dec 2004


National gay and lesbian rights group, Equal Rights Network calls on the ALP to support civil unions.

Dec 2004


After six months, Newtown karaoke event, Dike on Mikes – Lesbian Idol, becomes a sell-out hit, attracting a broad range of women.

Dec 2004



Delegates to the XVII International Confederation of Free Trade Unions pass a resolution presented by ACTU president Sharan Burrow, committing the Confederation to combatting HIV and AIDS.

1 Dec 2004


Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott launches World AIDS Day urging individuals at risk of HIV to take greater responsibility for themselves.

1 Dec 2004


A World AIDS Day press release by the NSW Police warning positive people to disclose their status or face 25 years’ imprisonment is condemned by health organisations.

2 Dec 2004


The Coalition and Labor vote against amending the Veteran’s Bill to recognise same sex relationships despite a demand to do so from the UN.

17 Dec 2004


The merging of hearts artwork for the 2005 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras branding, created by Euro RSCG Worldwide Australia advertising agency, is launched at the State Theatre.

Updated: 27 March 2015