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 1998


The Federal Court finds that the Australian Defence Force had acted properly when it discharged a soldier in December 1993 following his positive HIV test.

January 1998


The Secretariat General of the Council of Europe grants consultative status to the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

9 January 1998


Peter Black, the proprietor of Loot, a shop in the Strand Arcade, receives a letter from Knight and Frank, the Arcade management company, to remove a pink triangle, a rainbow flag and a Mardi Gras poster from his store, claiming a breach of his lease. He refuses and demands an apology.

11 January 1998


The Women’s Library moves from Alexandria to Watkins Lane Newtown.

19 January 1998


PRIDE Board member, Julie Brown resigns. Later in the week, the executive officer Bronte Morris departs and board members Annette Willis and the Thea Brown have resigned following on from a restructure of PRIDE and a large operating loss the previous year.

30 January 1998


An estimated 15,000 attend the launch of the 1998 Mardi Gras on the steps of the Opera House.

February 1998


PRIDE reinstates its executive officer Bronte Morris amid conflicting claims of a “set up” and financial mismanagement.

February 1998


The National Committee for Uniform Succession Laws releases its recommendations which are criticised by a law expert for winding back rights for gay men, lesbians and heterosexual de facto couples.

February 1998


The AIDS Council of NSW launches its second education campaign targeting gay male couples, Talk, Test, Trust.

February 1998


Teletubbies!, the BBC TV show for 2 – 6 year olds, screens on the ABC.

February 1998


Bronte Morris, the former executive officer of PRIDE begins an action in the Industrial Relations Commission seeking compensation for unfair dismissal.

8 February 1998


40,000 – 45,000 attend the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day in Victoria Park.

13 February 1998


A short film, My Cunt, written and performed by Maude Davey, which the ABC refused to air and film processors refused to print is aired on Radio National and screened during the Mardi Gras Film Festival.

13 February 1998


The 1998 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 20 Explosive Years CD, compiled by DJ Rob Davis is released.

14 – 15 February 1998


The 1998 Gay and Lesbian Lifestyle Expo is held at Darling Harbour.

16 February 1998


It’s Our ABC Too, a documentary about the recent history of gays and lesbians, sourced from the ABC archives, screens at the QueerScreen/Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Film Festival.

20 February 1998


Tim Conigrave’s plays, Like Stars In My Hands and Thieving Boy make their Sydney debut.

21-22 February 1998


The third national conference of the Australian Bisexual Network is held at the PRIDE Centre.

22 February 1998


An exhibition of photos of the first Mardi Gras and associated protests, is held at the Pitt Centre and then at the Raw Nerve Gallery in Erskineville.

27 February 1998


20 people protest against the actions of the city’s Strand Arcade management which demanded the shop Loot, remove gay and lesbian material from display.

27 February 1998


Handing down his judgement in the Federal Court, Justice Moore found the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission had erred in its interpretation of the Public Service Act’s definition of spouse on 17 June 1996, by including same sex couples. The application of Roger Miller to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for spouse allowances for his partner was rejected.

28 February 1998


A crowd of 700,000 lines the parade route of the 1998 Mardi Gras Parade. It is led by 220 people who participated in the first Mardi Gras.

2 March 1998


Channel 10 TV wins its timeslot with a broadcast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

7 March 1998


Entry to the work of lesbian photographer depicting a group of queer women performers, is restricted by the Stills Gallery.

23 March 1998


Asian Gay Proud, a new education campaign targeting Asian gays is launched at Sydney Town Hall. It is the initiative of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.

23 March 1998


Green WA Senator Dee Margetts amendment to the Family Trust Distribution (Primary Liability) Bill 1997, to include same sex partners in the Bill’s definition of a de fact spouse, is defeated in the Australian Senate.

26 March 1998


The Sisters of Charity Health Service adopts an integration plan, handing over the Sacred Heart Hospice to St Vincents Hospital.

28 March 1998


Clover Women’s Club holds a farewell dance at its Club Rooms at 122 Victoria Road, Drummoyne. It continues to operate but without permanent base.

April 1998


The AIDS Council of NSW and Vanessa Wagner launch Positive Fun and Esteem, a project for positive young gay men.

April 1998


The Cronulla Gay and Lesbian Social Group, a social networking group for 18 to 40 year olds is formed.

4 April 1998


The tenth anniversary unfolding of the Quilt takes place at Darling Harbour.

19 April 1998


Reverend Shelagh Zincke becomes the first woman ordained in Australia into the clergy of the Metropolitan Community Church.

23 April 1998


The photographic exhibition of the First Mardi Gras is re-launched at the University of Western Sydney, Nepean.

24 April 1998


The NSW Police respond to claims after receiving a letter of enquiry from the Anti-Discrimination Board, about anti-gay discrimination suffered by two former NSW Police Service employees.

29 April 1998


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby organises a “Relationships Rally” outside the NSW Parliament House.

May 1998


The Attorney General of NSW grants the gay men’s sauna Bodyline an exemption under the Anti-Discrimination Act so it can continue as a male only venue.

May 1998


The executive director of ACON resigns 18 months into his three year contract.

7 May 1998


A Homophobia: What are you scared of? campaign is launched at the Australian Football League Club - the Sydney Swans, Locker Room.

8 May 1998


The Coalition of Activist Lesbians launches 3 resource kits. One targets lesbians coming out, another the organisations addressing lesbian access and equity policies and the other, lesbians who want to get involved in “positive community initiatives”.

9 May 1998


The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Trade Union Caucus joins the Maritime Union of Australia picket lines at Port Botany, in support of workers sacked by Patrick Stevedores.

16 May 1998


The Women’s Library re-opens at 10 Brown Street, Newtown.

17 May 1998


The annual Forbes Street Leather Pride Fair is held.

23 May 1998


Lesbian Space Inc at its AGM decides to sell its Bedford Street premises.

28 May 1998

Washington DC

US President, Bill Clinton issues an executive order banning discrimination against lesbian and gay government employees.

28 May 1998


Debate begins today in the Senate on the Democrats Sexuality and Transgender Status Discrimination Bill.

29 May 1998


Unions apply to have Family Law extended to same sex couples in Catholic Church Awards, in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

31 May 1998


Roman Catholic Cardinal Pell refuses Holy Communion to 50 gay men, lesbians and their supporters at St Patricks Cathedral.

June 1998


A gay cook is awarded damages in the Federal Court against the Salvation Army’s Bethesda Hospital after a ruling that he was subjected to two years of “ongoing and systematic harassment”.

June 1998


A national stocktake of youth suicide prevention projects finds that only 12 out of 853 specifically target sexuality as a risk factor.

June 1998


Gay and Lesbian Perspectives IV is launched.

3 June 1998


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby’s draft copy of the Relationships Bill is presented to MLC Elizabeth Kirkby.

15-21 June 1998


3 blocks of the AIDS Memorial Quilt is displayed at the Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre.

17 June 1998


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby organises a 3,000 strong rally outside NSW Parliament House in support of a Domestic Relationships Bill which would give legal recognition to same sex relationships.

22 June 1998


The Superannuation (Entitlements of Same Sex Couples) Bill 1998 is introduced by Federal MP Anthony Albanese into Federal Parliament. The Bill seeks to eliminate superannuation discrimination by changing the definition of dependent to include the spouse, de facto partner and any child of the person.

22 June 1998


A meeting of Oxford Street business owners express concerns at the lack of a visible police presence in the area. The Local Area Commander at Surry Hills Station tells the meeting crime on the strip remains static.

24 June 1998


A private member’s De Facto Relationships (Amendment) Bill 1998, seeking to legally recognise same sex relationships, is introduced into the NSW Parliament by the Australian Democrats MLC, Elizabeth Kirkby.

27-28 June 1998


The seventh annual Queer Collaborations Conference is held at the University of Tasmania.

July 1998


Mardi Gras President, Bev Lange announces she will not seek pre-selection to the SGLMG Board.

July 1998


The Gay and Lesbian Youth Social Support Network (GLYSSN) formerly “Out on Wednesday”, is set up as a support and social group for gays, lesbians and bisexuals under 25yo in Sydney’s southern suburbs.

July 1998


The NSW National Party leader, Ian Armstrong attacks the Labor Carr government for funding a documentary charting the response to the rape and bashing of a lesbian mother in Surry Hills in 1990.

July 1998


The Space Project is formed. It aims to break down the isolation of young gay, lesbian, transgender and bi-sexual people across the Sydney region.

July 1998


The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation posts a $73,646 deficit for 1997, which has resulted from an increased demand for services.

8 July 1998


A women’s coming out group is established through the Cumberland Women’s Centre and Women Out West with funding from the NSW Department for Women.

28 July 1998


The South Sydney Council approves the development application of the People Living with HIV/AIDS organisation (PLWHA) to use its Bourke Street Surry Hills Positive Living Centre as a day care and support facility despite opposition from some local residents.

August 1998


The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras writes to major political figures seeking discussions on equal rights for gays and lesbians and assistance in securing the long term future of the Mardi Gras following on from the release of its Economic Impact Survey of the Mardi Gras.

August 1998


A two hour gay and lesbian radio programme begins broadcasting on 100.5FM in the Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly area.

August 1998


Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras announces it will trial boys only and girls only spaces for the October Sleaze Ball.

August 1998


The Venue opens in High Street Penrith, catering for gay and gay friendly clubbers on Thursday nights.

2 August 1998


Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras releases an economic impact survey of the Mardi Gras season which estimates $99 million flow form this event, the majority of the expenditure being concentrated in the South Sydney Council Area.

2 – 7 August 1998


300 Australian lesbians and gay men participate in the 1998 Gay Games, with half of the contingent coming from Sydney.

4 August 1998


The AIDS Council of NSW launches its 3 year Strategic Directions Plan, which identifies HIV positive men and the lesbian community as its core constituency.

15 August 1998


The Lesbian Space Custodial Committee holds a Lesbian Identity and Community Forum and aims to garner opinions on what it means to be a lesbian and what “lesbian community” denotes.

23 August 1998


“Fascist gay cunts” and “die poofter die” are tagged on the PRIDE Centre in Hutchinson Street Surry Hills.

29 August 1998


All but one candidate on the incumbent Board ticket are elected at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras AGM. Dr Happy Ho is the only successful independent.

September 1998


David McLachlan is elected President of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

12 September 1998


The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association holds its third annual Gay and Lesbian Expo at Centrepoint Convention Centre.

17 September 1998


Riot for Our Rights, a documentary about the first Sydney Mardi Gras by Robyn Kennedy and Anne Morphett, is screened at the British Short Film Festival.

23 September 1998


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby stage the Big Event – a crowd of 2-5,000 addressed by Julie McCrossin outside the NSW Parliament House demanding the Labour Government recognise gay and lesbian relationships.

October 1998


A community forum, facilitated by Paul van Reyk, aims to gather input for a strategic plan for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

October 1998


Transgender women who identify as lesbian can now become members of Lesbian Space Inc.

October 1998


90 people attend the Spanning Identities Conference, organised by lobby group Access Plus. Attendees express anger at their exclusion from the social, cultural and political life of queer communities.

October 1998


Everyday Passions: A Conversation on Living, an auto-biography by the Reverend Dorothy McRae-McMahon is published.

October 1998


The NSW Labor Council recommends that unions support the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby’s campaign to reform de facto relationships legislation and other discriminatory laws.

2 October 1998


Malcolm Thomas Green is sentenced to 18 years gaol for the manslaughter of Donald Wayne Gillies in May 1993 after Gillies had made a non-violent homosexual advance toward Green. Green received a murder sentence in 1994, but the High Court overturned the decision and ordered a re-trial.

3 October 1998


Just under 15,000 attend the 1998 Sleaze Party at the (old) Showgrounds.

6 October 1998



University student, Matthew Shepherd is murdered by 2 men.

11 October 1998


Curators of the exhibition Significant Others host a forum on Homosexuality in Australian Art at the S.H. Ervin Gallery.

14 October 1998


The NSW Attorney-General Jeff Shaw recommends the reform of the NSW Crimes Act to exclude non-violent homosexual advance from forming the basis of the defence of provocation.

12 October 1998


NSW Premier, Bob Carr’s office is picketed to put pressure on the Government to support a bill recognising same sex relationships.

26 October 1998


Reverend Jim Dykes, Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church and co-founder of Ankali, dies.

28 October 1998


A forum on hate crime is held to discuss the NSW Attorney-General’s Working Party on Homosexual Advance Defence’s recommendation that the law be changed so that a non-violent homosexual advance should no longer be allowed as a basis of the defence of provocation.

30 October 1998


6,000 women take part in the annual Reclaim the Night march.

November 1998


Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Co-convenors, Stevie Clayton and Sam Levy stand sown from their posts after 5 years and 13 months respectively in the job.

November 1998


Justice Michael Kirby outs himself by opting to include his partner of 30 years in his Who’s Who entry.

November 1998


Stephen Schapper resigns from the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir after 8 years, citing irreconcilable differences over the direction of the Choir.

November 1998


The Australian Council for Lesbian and Gay Rights calls on the Immigration Minister, Phillip Ruddock to recognise persecution on the grounds of sexuality, following the Refugee Review Tribunal’s rejection of a Sri Lankan gay man’s application for refugee status.

November 1998


The Queer as Fuck Festival is established to provide a stage for aspiring directors, writers and actors during the Mardi Gras Festival.

November 1998


The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner Chris Sidoti interprets the definition of spouse to exclude same sex relationships in the case of Greg Brown who had spent 4 years attempting to access his partner’s superannuation death benefits.

19-21 November 1998


“From Here to Diversity: lesbians, gay men and education”, the fifth annual conference of the Australian Centre for Lesbian and Gay Research is held at the University of Sydney.

22 November 1998


A crowd of 2,000 gathers in Hyde Park to remember those who had died from AIDS.

December 1998


A documentary exploring William Yang’s response to AIDS, his past and the history of Chinese Australians is shot in northern Qld.

December 1998


Shareholders at the Sydney Star Observer AGM approve the inclusion of transgender, bisexual and queer to its official target audience.

December 1998


Out and Out, 2SER’s nationally networked gay and lesbian programme wins the community Broadcasting Association of Australia’s award for the Regularly Broadcast Spoken Word.

December 1998


The Marrickville Council votes to write to the NSW Upper House Social Issues Committee urging reform around same sex couples.

December 1998


The NSW Department of Housing widens the criteria for the Special Rental Subsidy to benefit more people who are living with HIV/AIDS.

1 December 1998


Amendments to the Workers Compensation Act, introduced by the Attorney General, Jeff Shaw, comes into effect, with entitlements extended to dependent same sex partners, parents and siblings, as well as to a heterosexual worker’s dependent spouse and children.

16 December 1998


The NSW Attorney-General’s Department commits to funding the $200,000 “Community United Against Violence Campaign”, aimed at reducing anti-gay and lesbian hate crimes.

17 December 1998


Merran Lee reaches an out of court settlement with Garuda Indonesia Ltd after being refused family benefits available to the airline’s heterosexual employees.

31 December 1998


Sydney 2002 Gay Games organising committee raise the first Licence Fee instalment of $25,000 to be paid to the Federation of Gay Games (FOGG).

31 December 1998


The 1998 PRIDE NYE fundraising party “Shine into 99” is held at the Hordern Pavilion at the (old) Showgrounds.

Updated: 17 /9/15