Voices of resistance

Learning Activity
Schools & Teachers
Stage 5
An exploration of how a multimedia text represents personal and public worlds.

Focus text

Coming Out in the 70s — an online exhibition

Text type

Digital text

Learning intention

Students are learning to:

  • understand the influence of historical context on texts
  • explore how language can influence readers and can empower or disempower individuals
  • evaluate the ways in which texts can represent personal and public worlds
  • analyse and compose a range of different visual and written texts.

Success criteria

Students will be successful when they can:

  • analyse how texts explore human experiences
  • evaluate how social and moral positions are represented in a digital text
  • use language effectively to compose texts for a range of purposes.

Student Activities

Capturing the Zeitgeist

Students will use an extract from an oral history recording and the lyrics to a well-known protest movement song to gain an understanding of the historical context of the gay rights movement, which was born in the 1970s.

Number of set tasks:

Symbolism and poster design

Students will analyse the significance of symbolism and posters for the gay rights movement during the 1970s.

Number of set tasks:
The front page of publication Camp Ink from September 1976

Writing with Purpose

Students will use the online exhibition as stimulus for imaginative and evaluative writing.  

Number of set tasks:

Background information for teachers and students

Before the 1970s same-sex relationships were taboo in most Western societies. The 1960s ushered in an era of change. Civil rights movements around the world created opportunities to reform society. The 1969 Stonewall riots in New York triggered the rise of gay rights movements internationally and Australians soon took up the fight. Sydney quickly became a hub of activism.

‘Coming out’ — openly admitting same-sex orientation at the risk of rejection, discrimination, abuse or even death — became a brave political strategy, challenging the sexually conservative attitudes of Australian society.

This exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the emergence of the gay and lesbian rights movement in Australia. Although the struggle for equality is not over, sexual diversity is widely acknowledged in Australia today and celebrated through annual pride festivals like the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Many of the rights we take for granted are the direct result of the personal sacrifices and hard-fought activism of the 70s.

A note on symbolism

Emerging from its cocoon proud and free, the ‘coming out’ butterfly symbolised metamorphosis and change. Other common symbols of gay pride from the time are double Venus and Mars signs, representing same-sex love, and the colours purple and lavender. But the most politically charged was the triangle. Used in Nazi concentration camps to identify suspected homosexuals — a pink triangle for men and a black triangle for women — the symbol was reclaimed in the 70s as a powerful expression of pride.

Additional resources

ABC Radio Focus program on the ABC website

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum English K–10

A student:

  • EN5-RVL-01 uses a range of personal, creative and critical strategies to interpret complex texts 
  • EN5-URA-01 analyses how meaning is created through the use and interpretation of increasingly complex language forms, features and structures 
  • EN5-URB-01 evaluates how texts represent ideas and experiences, and how they can affirm or challenge values and attitudes 
  • EN5-ECA-01 crafts personal, creative and critical texts for a range of audiences by experimenting with and controlling language forms and features to shape meaning 

Students will:


  • Apply reading pathways appropriate to form, purpose and meaning, and connect ideas within and between texts 
  • Develop a deeper understanding of themes, ideas or attitudes by revisiting and reinterpreting texts to find new meaning 
  • Analyse the main ideas and thematic concerns represented in texts
  • Investigate how layers of meaning are constructed in texts and how this shapes a reader’s understanding and engagement 
  • Clarify and justify personal responses to texts, explaining how aspects of the text, such as character, genre, tone, salience or voice, position a reader and influence these personal responses 
  • Analyse how the use of language forms and features in texts have the capacity to create multiple meanings 
  • Analyse how language use evolves over time and is influenced by social and technological changes and developments 
  • Read increasingly complex texts that challenge thinking, pique interest, enhance enjoyment and provoke a personal response 
  • Engage in sustained and varied reading that presents increasingly diverse and complex perspectives and experiences, including those of
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and respond in a range of ways, including through extended written responses 
  • Consider how the social, cultural and ethical positions represented in texts represent, affirm or challenge views of the world 
  • Evaluate the ways reading texts help us understand ourselves and make connections to others and the world 
  • Reflect on how reading, viewing and listening to texts has informed and inspired learning 
  • Reflect on how an appreciation of texts can be enhanced through re-reading, and close or critical study 
  • Understand and reflect on the value of reading for personal growth and cultural richness 
  • Use reading strategies, and evaluate their effectiveness, when reflecting on the successes and challenges of extended reading 


  • Analyse how contextual, creative and unconscious influences shape the composition, understanding and interpretation of all representations 
  • Analyse how language forms, features and structures, specific or conventional to a text’s medium, context, purpose and audience, shape meaning, and experiment with this understanding through written, spoken, visual and multimodal responses 
  • Analyse how figurative language and devices can be used to represent complex ideas, thoughts and feelings to contribute to larger patterns of meaning in texts, and experiment with this in own texts 


  • Analyse how texts can be understood or interpreted from different perspectives, and experiment with this idea in own texts 
  • Evaluate how texts can position audiences to accept, challenge or reject particular perspectives of the world, and reflect on this in own texts 
  • Research, select and sequence appropriate evidence from texts and reliable sources to construct cohesive and authoritative arguments 
  • Evaluate how the authority of a text is continually negotiated and reassessed by readers 
  • Analyse how the distinctive aesthetic qualities and stylistic features of a text can shape and be shaped by its purpose, and experiment with this in own texts 


  • Develop a personal and informed voice that generates ideas and positions an audience through selection of appropriate word-level language and text-level features 
  • Experiment with language to create tone, atmosphere and mood 
  • Use rhetorical language strategically and subtly to shape complex ideas and convince others of a point of view, as appropriate to audience and purpose 
  • Compose visual and multimodal texts to express complex ideas, using a range of digital technologies where appropriate 
  • Use the structural conventions of persuasive texts to purposefully justify opinions and develop expanding arguments, including a focused opening and thesis, logically sequenced elaboration paragraphs, and a conclusion that synthesises complex ideas

In each Year of Stage 5 students must study examples of:

  • media, multimedia and digital texts.

Across the stage, the selection of texts must give students experience of:

  • a wide range of cultural, social and gender perspectives, popular and youth cultures
  • an appropriate range of digital texts, including film, media and multimedia.

Critical and creative thinking Critical and creative thinking

Ethical understanding Ethical understanding

Information and communication technology capability Information and communication technology capability

Personal and social capability Personal and social capability

Civics and citizenship Civics and citizenship

Difference and diversity Difference and diversity