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


Jan 1997


The NSW Minister for Correctional Services, Bob Debus, announces condoms will be made freely available to the 6,000 male inmates in NSW.

Jan 1997


The National Association of People with HIV Australia treatments spokesperson Bill Whittaker says that in 1996 there was a 13% fall in the death rate from AIDS as a range of new treatments become available.

Jan 1997


Hustler White, the 1996 film by Bruce LaBruce, is refused theatrical release by the Office of Film and Literature classification because the Office objected to its ‘sexual explicitness’ and an ‘offensive fetish’ scene.

Jan 1997


Support of Positive Youth Inc the charity which had targeted young people for three years is to fold.

Jan 1997


Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) president Bev Lange confirms that the Mardi Gras Marching Boys will be replaced by a political float in the 1997 parade.

Jan 1997


Approval for a temporary commemorative Mardi Gras monument at Taylor Square, a Hyde Park War Memorial pastiche by Peter Todd and Gary Carsley, is rejected by South Sydney Council.

Jan 1997


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) launches a campaign to equalise NSW’s discriminatory age of consent laws.

1 Jan 1997


A mirror ball falls on to the dance floor at Pride’s NYE Party, injuring three men. The party is PRIDE’s largest with 10,000 attending.

7-13 Jan 97


The eighth annual National Lesbian Confest is held on the Tasman Peninsula.

10 Jan 1997


Knight Call becomes NSW’s first legally operating gay brothel after the Land and Environment Court overturns a decision of the South Sydney Council.

11 Jan 1997


The Stronghold bar at 277 Goulburn Street, Surry Hills, closes after six years trading.

21 Jan 1997


SGLMG is advised that the ABC has cancelled its annual telecast plans. Edited coverage will be screened on Channel 10.

23 Jan 1997


Pride HIV/AIDS Community Development Project sets up a gay Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander project.

25-26 Jan 97


The Gender Centre hosts Diverse but United the first national conference on gender issues in Australia.

31 Jan 1997


The Mardi Gras Festival is launched with a crowd of 32,000 on the steps of the Opera House. Speakers include Paul O’Grady and 17 year old Gilbert, both who called for an equal age of consent.

31 Jan 1997


The Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal sets a precedent by giving lesbians equal access to privately-run fertility programs.

Feb 1997


Two gay inmates at the Cooma Correctional Centre call for the development of education programs that deal confidentially with issues of gay and transgender treatment in gaols.

3 Feb 1997


Paddington Police convene an anti-gay violence forum at the Albury Hotel.

5 Feb 1997


ACON launches its new strategy Men Like Us to address HIV issues that are personally relevant to gay men.

7 Feb 1997


The gay writer Peter Blazey dies.

9 Feb 1997


Mardi Gras Fair Day is held at Jubilee Park, Glebe.

10 Feb 1997


The Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project (AVP) renames Floods Lane, Mary’s Place, to commemorate the attack and rape of a lesbian in the lane in 1996

11 Feb 1997


Eugene Hoh and Andrew Ewings’ Mardi Gras festival art installation at Taylor Square of a small billboard addressing racist assumptions about gay men is removed by South Sydney Council because it resembled an advertisement.

15 Feb 1997


Queer Collaborations holds its inaugural conference at UTS and aims to establish state-wide year-round activism.

15 Feb 1997


The first Maybe Baby Conference about conceiving, adopting and fostering children is held.

19-23 Feb 97


Queerscreen holds its first film festival outside the inner suburbs at Parramatta’s Village Roxy Theatre.

21 Feb 1997


The Second National Conference on Bi-Sexuality is held in Camperdown.

22 Feb 1997


X Lines, an association of gay and lesbian Telstra staff raises over $1100 for BGF during the annual Shop Yourself Stupid.

23 Feb 1997


The Whistle Project meets to organise patrols around Hyde Park.

26 Feb 1997


The High Court announces it will allow Nick Toonen and Rodney Croome action against the Tasmanian government to proceed, paving the way for Tasmania’s anti-gay legislation to be found to be invalid.

28 Feb 1997


Prime Minister John Howard hosts a forum on youth suicide. Gay and Lesbian Teachers and Students Association (GaLTaS) and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) speak at the forum.

March 1997


At the launch of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s (HREOC) Human Rights for Australia’s Gays and Lesbians, the Human Rights Commissioner Chris Sidoti calls for national laws to protect gay men and lesbians from discrimination.

March 1997


Amendments to the Commonwealth Immigration Act are passed by the federal parliament and will require applicants for residency under the Interdependency Visa Category to have lived together for a minimum of 12 months.

March 1997


The Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service (GLCS) co-ordinator Frank Howarth announces plans to provide counselling information over the internet.

March 1997


The HREOC upholds a discrimination complaint by three women who were denied access to a Melbourne IVF program because of their marital status.

March 1997


Marise Payne wins pre-selection for NSW Liberal Party senator despite attacks on her for being on the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) Board.

1 Mar 1997


The twentieth Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade is held with a 500,000 crowd watching the parade of 200 floats, and 21,000 party goers attending the dance at the old Showgrounds.

15 Mar 1997


Lesbian Space Inc leases out most of its Bedford Street building in a bid to ease large mortgage repayments.

28 Mar 1997


The NSW government provides $75,000 toward Sydney’s bid to host the 2002 Gay Games.

April 1997

New York

Ellen DeGeneres comes out in Time magazine.

April 1997


Research presented to TAFE Outreach officers indicates widespread homophobia in TAFE.

2 April 1997


Leather Pride Association unveils its Inquisition V Anatomica dance poster.

3 April 1997


The case of 14 year old gay student Christopher Tsakalos who is suing Cranebrook High School Penrith for failing to prevent anti-gay vilification, will be rushed directly to the Supreme Court.

8 April 1997


Sex on premises venue 10 Taylor Street (aka Sin for Men) is granted a permit to operate by the Land and Environment Court.

20 April 1997


Bill O’Loughlin, President of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) steps down.

21 April 1997


School student Christopher Tsakalos returns to new high school in the Penrith region following a decision in his favour by the Supreme Court.

24 April 1997


Aboriginal gay and lesbian social group, Blackout meets.

24 April 1997


Laura Foy and Sarah Ellis are thrown out of the Maroubra Seals Club when the club manager sees them kissing.

30 April 1997


Federal Health minister Michael Woolridge announces funding to extend the Roche Products viral load testing scheme.

May 1997


The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF) reports the highest demand this month for financial assistance.

1 May 1997


Homosexual law reform passes the Tasmanian Legislative Council without amendment.

4 May 1997


3,500 walk from Green Park to the Domain for the annual candlelight AIDS Memorial down from the 10,000 in 1996.

11 May 1997


A report by Jenni Millbank for the Coalition of Active Lesbians (COAL) titled Lesbian Families and Australian Laws highlights widespread discrimination and makes a series of recommendations.

25 May 1997


The second of a series of corroborees by a group of indigenous lesbians and gay men aiming to re-establish the presence of aborigines in the gay and lesbian community is held at the PRIDE centre.

1 June 1997


A Sydney Park AIDS Tree Planting, commemorating people who have died, is held. Trees are donated by the South Sydney Council

11 June 1997


The Lesbian Space Inc committee resigns and recommends the closure of the centre in order to rent out the building to rein in its large debt.

11 June 1997


The NSW Premier, Bob Carr meets with peak lesbian and gay organisations to discuss law reform and the government’s relationship in the GLBT community.

21 June 1997


The Tranny Pride Ball held at Caesars Bar is hailed as a financial and social success.

July 1997


Attorney General, Darryl Williams states that the Federal Government will not support moves to equalise homo- and hetero-sexual ages of consent.

July 1997


The Uniting Church’s national director of missions Dorothy McRae-McMahon, announces that she is a lesbian.

July 1997


South Sydney Council votes to give the 2002 Gay Games Bid a grant of $5,000.

July 1997


NSW Community Services Minister, Ron Dyer vetoes a proposal for homosexual couples to adopt children in a review of the Adoption Act 1965.

July 1997


A report by Dr Gary Cox The preliminary economic impact assessment of the Sydney 2002 Gay Games calculates that the games could garner up to $140m in increased revenues.

12 July 1997


Clover, the lesbian social group, celebrates its 25th anniversary at a dinner dance in Croydon.

12 July 1997


A Significant Personal Relationship bill forum at the PRIDE centre is split between MLA Clover Moore’s broad ranging bill and other options such as the GLRL minimalist amendments to the De facto relationships Act.

13 July 1997


A fire in the offices of Bodyline sauna forces the evacuation of the sauna.

14 July 1997


Brett Halliwell, a 30 year old heterosexual male fails to use the Anti-Discrimination Act to include protection for heterosexuals after he was refused entry to the lesbian venue Sirens in 1996.

15 July 1997

Miami, US

Fashion designer, Gianni Versace is fatally shot outside his villa.

25 July 1997


An exhibition celebrating the lives of GLBT people in the Hunter Valley opens at the regional museum.

26 July 1997


Castaways social club holds its second dance at the Parramatta Golf Club.

August 1997


Trials begin at St Vincents Hospital of a new anti-HIV treatment which uses ribozyme to create harmless HIV infected T cells to replace HIV infected T cells in a HIV positive patient.

August 1997


The federal Family Services minister, Judi Moylan rejects a proposed poster aimed at gay and lesbian teenagers that was to be a part of a youth suicide prevention campaign, because it was a “recruitment aid for homosexuality”.

August 1997


A new compassionate access program for the new anti-HIV drug Glaxo-Wellcome 1592 starts.

August 1997


The NSW Parliament rejects the Wood Royal Commission’s recommendations to equalise the age of consent.

August 1997


Drag performer Pauline Pantsdown and Radio JJJ face legal action from Pauline Hanson over a song satirising her.

August 1997


Australian evangelical and charismatic organisations call for the resignation of lesbians Reverend Dorothy McRae-McMahon and Reverend Jennifer Byrnes from their senior jobs in the Uniting Church.

August 1997


Civil liberty groups express concern over the Wood Royal Commission’s recommendations to give police the power to warn the community of the presence of child sex offenders.

2 Aug 1997


William Burroughs dies aged 83.

13 Aug 1997


Reverend Dr Gordon Moyes calls for a boycott of the Uniting Church’s national governing body saying that it was “racked by the agenda of the gay and lesbian lobby”.

13 Aug 1997


SGLMG president, Bev Lange is re-elected for a third term.

20 Aug 1997


Tony Ayre’s short film Mrs Craddock’s Complaint, a film about male beats, screens on the ABC.

20 Aug 1997


The Cross Campus Sexuality Network of NSW meets to discuss ways to further the interests of queer university students.

21 Aug 1997


NSW Health Minister, Andrew Refschauge launches the new Bobby Goldsmith House in Surry Hills.

26 Aug 1997


Gay man Gary Lysaght is refused employment as a store manager with the Salvation Army because his presence might “give the Salvation Army a bad name.”

Sept 1997


The Australian Centre for Lesbian and Gay Research (ACLGR) begins a survey of workplace discrimination.

Sept 1997


Trashtown, a novel by Robert Tait is published by Blackwattle Press.

Sept 1997


The Uniting Church Synod votes down a motion calling for the banning of gay men and lesbians from the ministry.

1 Sept 1997


Dorothy McRae-McMahon resigns as the Uniting Church’s National Director for Mission following threats of a split in the church after she came out in July.

17 Sept 1997


Kay Schumach wins the inaugural Raw Nerve Art Prize with Beat Girls.

24 Sept 1997


Jan Burnswoods Labor MLC defers the first reading of her age of consent bill after Fred Nile MLC supported by National and Liberal members, calls for a division at its first reading.

25 Sept 1997


Clover Moore MLA introduces her Significant Personal Relationships bill.

Oct 1997


Labor State Conference fails to debate a resolution for same-sex relationships to be recognised in the De Facto Relationships Act.

Oct 1997


The NSW National Party opposes the distribution of copies of Ian Robert’s biography Finding Out, to country schools.

Oct 1997


The Australian Council of Lesbian and Gay Rights (ACLGR) criticises new federal rules on aged care services, which will see same-sex couples not have their homes exempted from the aged care assets test if one partner moves into care.

Oct 1997


The Flinders Hotel and the Kinselas night club are sold.

Oct 1997


In response to a Rainbow Sash action, the Archbishop of Melbourne Dr George Pell states that if an individual declares they are a practising homosexual they will not be entitled to receive Holy Communion.

1 Oct 1997


The new drug nevirapine, marketed as Viramine used in HIV combination therapy is listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

4 Oct 1997


More than 19,000 attend the 15th Sleaze Ball, themed Atlantis.

11 Oct 1997


GaLTaS’s How to Stop Classroom Homophobia conference is held and hears calls for a systematic approach to anti-homophobia campaigns.

21 Oct 1997


A special commission of inquiry is set up after Labor MLC Franca Arena tables documents she claims are evidence of a high level conspiracy to suppress the names of prominent paedophiles.

22 Oct 1997


A 5,000 strong rally is held outside Parliament House as the Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Bill is introduced by Labor MLC Jan Burnswoods.

Nov 1997


Michael Thomas Green’s conviction for the murder of Donald Gillies in the Supreme Court of NSW is quashed by the High Court. Green had accused Gillies of making homosexual advances.

Nov 1997


Homophobic Violence edited by Gail Mason and Stephen Tomsen is published.

Nov 1997


Desirelines a joint biography by Peter and Richard Wherrett is published.

Nov 1997


The Women Partners of Bisexual/Gay Men project at ACON launches a video aimed at assisting health care workers in counselling and support roles.

Nov 1997


John Godwin, the first salaried legal officer at ACON and who also ran the successful Hope-Brown vs NIB health care case, is named the Law Society’s Pro Bono Solicitor of the Year.

Nov 1997


The Seen and Heard report by the Joint Australian Law Reform Commission and HREOC recommends that the age of consent should be the same for heterosexual and homosexual sex and that all states and territories legislate to this effect.

Nov 1997


Peter Sharpe, an inmate at Kirkconnell Correctional Centre lodges a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board of serious discrimination and harassment.

11 Nov 1997


The ALP fails to expel Franca Arena MLC from the NSW parliament following the findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry found that her claims about a paedophile conspiracy were false and she knew them to be false.

14-15 Nov 97


Re:ACTIVATE a conference on LGBT activism is organised by the ACLGR.

21 Nov 1997


Sydney is announced as the Gay Games VI venue.

21 Nov 1997


Jason Oldershaw, an ex-prisoner of Junee Correctional Centre takes a complaint of harassment, violence and discrimination by Australian Correctional Management whilst he was an inmate, to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal.

24 Nov 1997


A march and rally is held to launch World AIDS day with marchers carrying a symbolic coffin to Parliament House from the Museum of Contemporary Art.

25 Nov 1997


A picket of twenty people organised by GLRL in support of equal rights for same sex relationships is held at the rear entrance to the NSW Parliament House.

29 Nov 1997


The AIDS Trust of Australia reports a record profit of $100,000 from the annual City of Sydney Food and Wine Fair.

29 Nov 1997


The Sixth National Women and Labour Conference calls on all Australian governments to address inequities in the health care system which discriminate against lesbians.

Dec 1997


The 1996 census reveals that there are 8,913 same-sex couples in NSW.

Dec 1997


The South Sydney Council agrees to donate $14,400 to the Sydney Games Bid Ltd towards accommodation, administrative and promotional costs.

Dec 1997


Nick Toomen and Rodney Croome accept the national human rights Community Award on behalf of the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group for its successful ten year campaign to repeal Tasmania’s anti-gay laws.

Dec 1997


Film maker Melissa Lee negotiates with the NSW Department of School Education with the aim of using her film Mary’s Place about the impact of homophobic violence, as an anti-homophobia tool for high school students.

Dec 1997


A touring lesbian history exhibition, Forbidden Love, Bold Passion at the Penrith Regional Gallery is attacked by Penrith Councillor Jim Aitiken for being ‘distasteful’.

Dec 1997


The Human Rights Commissioner, Chris Sidoti condemns the Catholic Education Office for refusing Jacqui Griffin’s employment in 1993 when she was the co-convenor of GaLTaS.

Dec 1997


AVP and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission launch a series of postcards Homophobia, What Are You Scared Of?

Dec 1997


The NSW Government launches a suicide prevention package but fails to mention young gay men and lesbians as a risk group.

1 Dec 1997


The management of the Positive Living Centre is handed over by the Director General Eastern Area Health Service to Sydney PWA Living Centre Inc.

2 Dec 1997


A report prepared by the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee which investigated the Democrats proposed 1995 Sexuality Discrimination Bill is released.

2 Dec 1997


The SGLMG launches its 1998 festival program and poster – 29 years of [R]evolution. It marks the 20th anniversary of the first Mardi Gras.

7 Dec 1997


Lesbians United by a Sense of Humour (LUSH) holds its first fundraiser for the AVP.

11 Dec 1997


The Versa project commences. It provides people with HIV an opportunity to participate in a live phone forum, one on one support and information around treatment issues.

15 Dec 1997


BGF re-locates to the ACON building.

31 Dec 1997


Over 10,000 revellers attend the PRIDE 1998 New Year’s Eve Party.

Updated: 15/9/15