Garry Wotherspoon oral history interviews with gay men and women are online

Portrait of Ron Owen smiling and holding a white cardboard effigy that shows text saying ‘Away From Sydney Today But I Support Rights for Gays (signed) Kendall Lovett, 1978
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Garry Wotherspoon is a teacher, writer and historian who taught Australian economic and social history and minority studies at the University of Sydney. He has published books  on gay history, articles in Campaign, Outrage, Gay Information and other magazines and edited Being Different: Nine Gay Men Remember, 1986.

These oral histories were conducted 1980-1988 and record the memories of gay men (and two women) who remember the underground years of gay culture, the illicit meetings, the arrests and protests. These interviews also formed the basis of his publication City of the Plain, a history of Sydney's gay subculture. It was a work that signalled the beginning of a new, serious attention to the existence and importance of gay culture. 

Garry Wotherspoon is one of a group of people known as the 78ers who marched in the very first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 1978. Many of the marchers were arrested and suffered violence at the hands of police. In 2016 there was an official apology for the treatment they received. The apologies came from the NSW Parliament, from a representative of NSW Police force, and from the Sydney Morning Herald, who in 1978 published the full names, and occupations of those arrested. This action had outed many members of the gay community to friends, families and employers.

In this image Ron Owen carried the cut out that Kendall Lovett made for the 1978 gay rights street march on 15 July 1978, protesting against police brutality at the first Gay Mardi Gras in Kings Cross a few weeks prior. A work-related staff event outside Sydney had prevented Kendall Lovett from joining the street protest.

The Library has included black and white & colour digital images from Sydney Photographer Geoff Friend to complement the collection of oral histories by Garry Wotherspoon of material documenting the story of Mardi Gras and the gay rights movement.

You can help transcribe these recordings using  Amplify, our online transcription tool:

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