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 1999


The Gay and Lesbian Teachers and Students Association (GaLTaS) closes after 8 years, citing financial difficulties as the reason.

January 1999


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby launches its new logo: a pink “equal” sign with the slogan “Be Part of the Push for Equal Rights”.

January 1999


The Unity Party launches a gay candidate, Gordon The, for the NSW lower house seat of Marrickville.

January 1999


The NSW Liberal Party selects an openly gay man, Peter Fussell, as its candidate for the State seat of Bligh.

January 1999


A group for gay men from Arabic backgrounds is formed.

January 1999


Bruce Grant, the executive officer of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby’s Anti-Violence Project since its inception in 1991, resigns.

January 1999


Bisexual man, Glenn Vassallo, loses his appeal to become a member of the Sydney Gay and Lesbain Mardi Gras.

January 1999


The Unity Party launches a gay candidate, Thang Ngo for the NSW lower house seat of Fairfield.

January 1999


The NSW Democrats announce gay candidate, Matthew Hua for NSW lower house seat of Cabramatta.

1 January 1999


PRIDE holds its Shine Into 99 party and it is a sell-out attracting 7,500 people.

21 January 1999


OutFM, Sydney’s GLBT community radio station, is on air until February 25.

23 January 1999


The Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project (AVP) holds the first in a series of community consultations at Leichhardt Hotel.

29 January 1999


The Homosexual Advance Defence (HAD) working group, set up by the NSW Attorney-General to observe the use of this defence, holds its first meeting.

31 January 1999


Word of Mouth IX celebrates the beginning of its Mardi Gras Season with its Mosh Pit at the Addison Rd Community Centre in Marrickville.

February 1999


The inaugural Queer As Fuck Festival (QAFF) is held at Woollahra’s Lookout Theatre.

February 1999


The NSW Greens launch their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender policy for the next parliamentary term.

February 1999


The first episode of Queer as Folk is screened on Channel 4 in the UK.

February 1999


HIV positive man, Richard Heystraten is refused treatment for a severed finger at the Surry Hills Medical Centre because the Centre claimed that it had no clean up facilities.

1 February 1999


Defamation proceedings commence against the Seven Network in the NSW Supreme Court. Solicitor John Marsden alleges the Network defamed him on its programs, Today Tonight and Witness.

3 February 1999


The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras meets with the Trustees of the Sydney Opera House, after it cancelled guided tours by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, reportedly after representations from the Premier Bob Carr, Fred Nile MLC and the Catholic Church.

4 February 1999


Radio 2SER’s gay and lesbian programme, GAYWAVES, moves to the 7:30pm time slot.

5 February 1999


A crowd of 22,000 launch the 1999 Mardi Gras Season on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

6 February 1999


Don Dunstan, former SA Premier dies. He is survived by his long-time partner Stephen Cheng.

7 February 1999


The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Sports Festival is launched by Team Sydney at Federation Valley, Centennial Park.

13 February 1999


Mardi Gras Fair Day is held at Victoria Park.

21 February 1999


Marrickville Metro joins several hundred other businesses in Newtown, Darlinghurst and Paddington in the 6th annual Shop Yourself Stupid fundraiser for Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.

27 February 1999


The 22nd Mardi Gras Parade and Party are held. 6,000 participants are led by a double sided effigy of Bob Carr and Kerry Chikarovski and are cheered on by 600,000 spectators.

27 February 1999


The SGLMG Satellite dance party at Home Nightclub is organised as an alternative to the main Mardi Gras party.

27 February 1999


The Rainbow Party, backed by Dawn O’Donnell, is held at the Australian Technology Park in Redfern, with profits going to the Luncheon Club.

March 1999


A NSW Supreme Court jury finds that the solicitor, John Marsden was defamed by two Channel 7 current affairs programmes.

March 1999


The NSW Health Department publishes new guidelines which states that a public hospital patient’s right to receive visitors includes same sex couples.

March 1999


Gordon The, the Unity Party candidate for the NSW Parliamentary Seat of Marrickville resigns after his party delivered its preferences to two right wing parties in the Upper House.

March 1999


Trials of a HIV vaccine, Avipox, are expected to begin before June this year.

2 March 1999


Dominic Davies, co-author of The Sexual Politics of Disability, presents a lecture on disability and sexuality.

2 March 1999


Dusty Springfield dies at the age of 59 from breast cancer.

16 March 1999


The Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre hosts Getting Pregnant, Lesbian Style.

25 March 1999


Virginia Bell is sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW.

27 March 1999


The Carr NSW Labor Party is re-elected. Clover Moore is the re-elected member for Bligh, defeating the ALP’s Vic Smith, gay Liberal candidate Peter Fussell and lesbian Green’s candidate Emelia Holdaway.

29 March 1999


The first meeting of the Western Business and Services Network, is held. It aims to create a network of “sexuality friendly” businesses in Western Sydney.

1 April 1999


Dominic O’Grady leaves the position of Editor of the Sydney Star Observer.

10 April 1999


A meeting to create a NSW chapter of Rainbow Sash, is held.

10 April 1999


The Quilt Project displays The Quilt at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour.

14 April 1999


The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras exhibition, outworker, includes works by C. Moore Hardy, Phillippa Playford, Brian Ross, Jan Dickson and the late David McDiarmind and Peter Tully.

17 April 1999


The Long Yang Club, a support group for gay Asian men, their friends and partners is launched at the Heffron Hall.

24-25 April 1999


The Cronulla Gay and Lesbian Arts Festival, organised by the Southern Beaches Gay and Lesbian Social Group and the Crossroads Community Centre, aims to promote the existence of sexual minority groups in the Southern suburbs.

May 1999


Marcus O’Donnell resigns from his post at Outrage to become editor of Sydney Star Observer.

May 1999


Craig Johnston publishes his book, Sydney Gaze which documents and comments on the local gay movement.

May 1999


The Satellite Group, which recently bought the Beresford and Beauchamp Hotels, buys the Melbourne Star Observer and Outrage and the majority shareholding in Capital Q.

May 1999


Out lesbian, Kerryn Phelps is elected President of the NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association.

May 1999


Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Raw Nerve Gallery, closes after 3 years operation.

2-8 May 1999


Leather Pride Week is held and includes the Forbes Street Fair, education workshops an art exhibition and the Inquisition Party.

8 May 1999


Paul Truscott, Sydney Leather Pride Committee member is arrested inside the Inquisition Party and charged under the Prohibited Weapons Act for possessing a flogger. Police withdraw charges in August 1999.

25 May 1999


Images From an Epidemic, an exhibition of photographs selected as iconic examples of the experiences and impact of HIV/AIDS, is held at the Lizard Lounge Art Space.

31 May 1999


A meeting of Lesbian Space Inc hears costed proposals on how to spend the money raised by the sale of its building.

June 1999


A meeting of community organisations and the new board of Sydney 2000 meet to discuss funding of the Sydney 2002 Gay Games.

June 1999


In a report tabled in Federal Parliament, Human Rights Commissioner, Chris Sidoti recommends the amendment of superannuation law to eliminate discrimination against same sex partners.

June 1999


An experimental drug, C9, is found to block the ion channel that HIV uses to reproduce within cells, effectively disabling the virus.

1 June 1999


The Property (Relationships) Legislation Amendment Bill is passed in the NSW. The legislation covers inheritance, stamp duty, property division, guardianship if a same sex partner is incapacitated, bail applications, compensation if a partner is hurt or killed in an accident, notification of partners of patients with mental illness and provision for partners when a person is unable to manage his or her own affairs.

June 10 1999


A homemade bomb explodes in the foyer of the Queensland AIDS Council Offices, injuring two people. Two 19 year old men are charged in July for the attack.

16 June 1999


Sydney 2002 Gay Games, announces the appointment of Robyn Archer as the artistic director of the Games Cultural Festival.

16 June 1999


The NSW Upper House Standing Committee on Social Issues calls for submissions to its inquiry into De Facto Relationships Legislation.

28 June 1999


Co-President of the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service, Tim Young and his partner, Matthew McCrory, are the first to use the new legislation, to transfer the title deed of their house into joint names.

July 1999


Leichhardt Council actively seeks input from local lesbians into its draft Women’s Section of its new Social Plan.

July 1999


Catherine James is appointed editor of Lesbians on the Loose.

July 1999

Los Angeles

500 gay and lesbian members of the Metropolitan Community Church protest against the United States’ ban on HIV people entering the country, after international delegates, including two from Australia are refused visas to attend its 30th anniversary conference.

July 1999

St Louis, USA

An experimental two pronged anti-HIV treatment which delivers two vaccines into the body, successfully creates an immune response in 90% of volunteers.

July 1999


Father Claude, the national co-ordinator of Acceptance Australia, condemns the Vatican for ordering an American priest and nun to stop ministering to gays and lesbians and failing to comply with the Catholic Church’s teachings on the “intrinsic evil of homosexual acts”.

1 July 1999


Two seats in the Australian Senate are now occupied by openly gay politicians – Bob Brown and Brian Greig.

22 July 1999


The first episode of Will and Grace screens at 8pm on Channel 7.

August 1999


The Adelaide based Don Dunstan Foundation, launches its Sydney chapter. Among its aims is one to identify the disadvantages and discrimination faced by gay and lesbian Australians.

August 1999


Local gay activist, Matthew Hua, attends the 3rd annual meeting of Chinese gay men and lesbians in Hong Kong on behalf of 2002 Gay Games, to gather support for the games.

August 1999


Jackie Brew commences work as the Crime Prevention Division Policy Officer (Gay and Lesbian Liaison) in the NSW Attorney General’s Department.

August 1999


Results of a Morgan Public Opinion Poll show that 55% of Australians are not in favour of homosexual couples adopting children.

August 1999


Gillian Minervini is appointed Artistic Director for the PRIDE 2000 NYE party.

14 August 1999


An organised ticket, called New Mardi Gras Magic, stands against the incumbent team for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras annual Board elections. David McLachlan and the incumbent ticket, win all 14 Board positions.

15 August 1999


The Satellite Group managing director, Greg Fisher and recently appointed chair, Dr Kerryn Phelps, announce the Group’s pending float – the world’s first “pink float” – on the Australian Stock Exchange. Satellite, established in 1996, is now valued at $220 million.

26 August 1999


South Sydney Council gives the go ahead to a project to create a profile of people of different sexualities living in the Council area.

30 August 1999


The 9th Annual Drag Industry Variety Awards (DIVAs) night is held at the Star City Showroom.

September 1999


The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations launches a Who Am I – a campaign targeted at same-sex attracted young men to empower them to make healthy, life- affirming choices.

September 1999


Collective Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) forms and plans a picket and all day protest outside a proposed Liberty Christian Ministries Conference Coming Out: A Journey Out of Homosexuality on September 25. The Conference is subsequently cancelled due to GLBTQ protests.

September 1999


An article published in The Australian “Gay Abandon” by staff journalist Georgina Safe, is condemned by AIDS experts.

September 1999


Kooncha Brown is appointed as the ACON Aboriginal and Torres Strait Transgender and Sistergirl Project Officer.

5–6 September 1999


Police claims raids by the Operational Support Group at the Beresford and Stonewall Hotels are targeted at drugs and violence.

1 September 1999


Australian Democrats Senator Brian Greig uses his maiden speech to describe the homophobic environment in which gay men and lesbians live, as akin to apartheid.

10 September 1999


The float of the Satellite Group closes fully subscribed.

10 September 1999


The Sydney Gay Men’s Chorus is officially launched at St Luke’s Church, Enmore.

11 September 1999


Openly gay, Thang Ngo is elected to the Fairfield City Council.

11 September 1999


The Lesbian Mental Health Support Group’s first meeting is held.

13 Sept – 4 Oct 1999


Community Radio Station OutFM returns for a fourth broadcast.

25 – 26 September 1999


The Gay and Lesbian Martial Arts Team win six medals, including 3 for first place at the 8th International Martial Arts Championships at Lidcombe.

October 1999


Anti-HIV drug, Storcin aka efavirenz or MSD is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

October 1999


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby wins a $40,000 grant from the Centenary of Federation Fund, to develop a Gay and Lesbian Community History Project, focusing on oral histories of inner city Sydney.

2 October 1999


A crowd of 14,000 attend the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Sleaze Ball Homo Sutra at the old Sydney Showgrounds.

8 October 1999


Queer Screen’s queerDOC 99 Festival is launched.

18 October 1999


A documentary based on William Yang’s image/voice piece is launched at the Art Gallery of NSW.

29 October 1999


The annual Reclaim the Night Rally and March is held at Hyde Park and is addressed by Kerryn Phelps and Carmen Lawrence.

26 October 1999


The Bankstown District Gay and Lesbian Social Group holds its first meeting in the Bankstown City Library.

28 October 1999


The Gonorrhoea Task Force launces a campaign urging gay men to get tested regularly for gonorrhoea, following a dramatic increase in occurrence in inner Sydney gay men.

30 October 1999


The fifth annual Gay and Lesbian Australian Dance Championships are held at the Terrance Ballroom, University of NSW.

November 1999


Ron Quilter and Dawn O’Donnell receive Commonwealth Recognition Awards for Senior Australians for contributions to the gay and lesbian community.

November 1999


The Local Government and Shires Association Annual Conference, mandates that lesbians and gay men be included in Council Social Plans.

1 November 1999


The gay and lesbian radio station Free FM 96.9 returns for a month long broadcast.

2 November 1999


The Reconciliation group, Black + White + Pink holds a workshop at the Settlement in Chippendale. It aims to get comment on the recently released draft Declaration for Reconciliation. Bev Lange is appointed the GLBT rep on the committee.

4 November 1999


Andrew Olexander, the first openly gay Liberal Party member to be elected to any Australian Parliament, gives his first speech to the Victorian Legislative Council.

10 November 1999


The NSW Liberal Party allows its Members of Parliament a conscience vote on a bill seeking to equalise the age of consent.

15 November 1999


John Marsden’s defamation case against Chanel Seven opens. He seeks damages for TV programmes in May 1996 that had claimed he knowingly had sex with males who were under the age of consent.

15 November 1999


Diane Topping takes up as the Anti-Violence Project’s new executive co-ordinator.

18 November 1999


A Bill to equalise the Age of Consent in NSW is defeated 20 votes to 19 in the NSW Legislative Council. Labor MLC, Henry Tsang’s opposition to the Bill is seen as critical for its defeat.

21 November 1999


The 1999 Annual Candlelight Procession begins at Green Park and ends in Hyde Park where Jimmy Barnes, Thelma Houston, Tobin Saunders and Paul Capsis headline performances and speeches.

22 November 1999


Surry Hills Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer, Steven Cost-Chretien, resigns, alleging homophobia and harassment. Cost-Chretien, who is not homosexual, had developed a popular profile among inner city gays and lesbians.

28 November 1999


Members and supporters of the Jewish Lesbian and Gay Group, Dayenu Association, meet to plan their float for the 2000 Mardi Gras.

29 November 1999


Satellite Managing Director, Greg Fisher, announces plans to create the world’s first international gay and lesbian website and the start of research into retirement requirements for gays and lesbians.

December 1999


The first major Australian account of sexuality and transgender workplace discrimination, The Pink Ceiling Is Too Low – Workplace Experiences of Lesbians, Gay Men and Transgender People, is launched. Three years in the making, it was produced by the Australian Centre for Lesbian and Gay Research and the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.

December 1999


A report produced by the NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues, Report on Domestic Relationships, recommends reforms to extend the rights of lesbian and gay couples.

December 1999


A High Court decision finds a soldier, discharged in 1993 when his HIV positive status was discovered, can be lawfully sacked.

December 1999


A Federal Government review of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is confirmed by the Federal Health Minister, Michael Wooldridge. Health groups claim this could assist access to new HIV medications.

December 1999


The 11th Conference of the Australian Society of HIV Medicine, discusses the epidemic overseas, changing needs and serio-discordancy.

December 1999


Marrickville Council proposes to form a Gay and Lesbian Community Consultative Committee.

9-10 December 1999


Hate Crimes – Politics, Practice, Power Conference is held at the University of Sydney and discusses hate crimes.

Updated: 18/9/15



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