It's LGBT History Month

Life at LLW

I remember the first time I went to a gay venue, the Wickham in Brisbane. I walked around the block a few times, and marched on in during the middle of a show being hosted by Ms Lidia, who saw me and dragged me straight up on stage to be part of a trivia Q&A! What a way to get over my nerves and dive right into the deep end!

In the days after that, my friends and I would go to various venues around Brisbane. There was a nightclub across the road from where the LLW Spring Hill office is, called Options. It had two levels and five shows a night. It was spectacular. It was also outside here that a friend was the victim of a homophobic attack. He was in hospital for four days. The offenders were never found or charged. The officers investigating the case said they were “too busy with real crimes”.

This was only 22 years ago in Brisbane.

Intergenerational trauma

There was also another trauma playing out at the time. An intergenerational trauma amongst my friends and the community.  There was a layer of people missing.  Where was the older generation to help guide us and show us the way? There didn’t seem to be many of them around. Sadly, the onslaught of the HIV Epidemic had taken so many of them from us.  

So many of the community were dealing with homophobia, often from within their own family. We would look to engage support services in the community, only to find some would turn us away.

I share this as a real life example of why it’s important for us as an organisation to show outwardly to the community our acceptance and welcoming arms to the LGBTQI+ community.   We can do this by taking the time to understand some of the history of the communities of people we support. I’m proud to work for an organisation that has people who genuinely care, and take the time to connect.

LGBT History Month

October is LGBT History Month, an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements.  

In October 2016, Minus 18, Australian Queer Archives, and the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria organised the first Australian LGBTQ+ History Month. Learn more.  

Here’s a window into key events in this community’s recent history in Australia.

1978 and the ‘78ers

On 24 June 1978, a group of people gathered along Oxford Street in Sydney. They formed a protest in support of gay and lesbian rights. This group is known as the 78ers.  Many at the event were assaulted and put in the watch-house.

Almost 30 years later, in 2016, the NSW State Parliament made a formal bipartisan apology to the 78ers, when Bruce Notley Smith, the member for Coogee, moved the motion of apology in the NSW Legislative Assembly.

Also in that year, the Sydney Morning Herald published an apology to the 78ers. Darren Goodsir, editor-in-chief said: “In 1978, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the names, addresses and professions of people arrested during public protests to advance gay rights. The paper at the time was following the custom and practice of the day. We acknowledge and apologise for the hurt and suffering that reporting caused. It would never happen today.”

NSW Police Commissioner Michael Fuller gave an official apology in 2018 on behalf of the Police Force for the actions of police during the events of 1978.

In 1997, a small group of people who were part of the 1978 events contributed to planning the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Mardi Gras parade in 1998. This group became known as the 78ers and has led each year’s Mardi Gras parade since 1998.

Fast forward to today

I’ve recently joined LLW’s LGBTQI+ Inclusive Practice Project, which is focused on creating a more welcoming and supportive culture for people from the diverse community – clients and staff.

Being mindful of the history that many of these clients have experienced, can help us as an organisation connect in meaningful ways to those who turn to us for help.