Bus tour with Sydney Pride pioneers!
The tour will include commentary and talks outside the bus at key sites, following the route of the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade on 24 June 1978.
LGBTQIA+ activism in Australia did not start in 1978. The first activist organisations were the Australasian Lesbian Movement (originally the Daughters of Bilitis named after the US organisation); the ACT Homosexual Law Reform Society formed in 1969; and CAMP Inc., established in 1970, which became the main activist organisation.
While there were arrests at the early 70’s gay and lesbian demonstrations, the incidents surrounding the first Mardi Gras were the most significant and far reaching in Sydney’s queer history. The difference was the scale of police violence and number of arrests. Over the course of three months in 1978, a total of 178 activists were arrested. This was our Stonewall!
But how did we get to all this? 45 years ago, a letter from San Francisco asked Sydney activists to organise international solidarity activities in late June 1978 – the ninth anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots.
US activists were campaigning against the anti-gay Briggs Initiative on the California ballot that would have made it an offence for anyone employed in a school to speak favourably about homosexuality.
Sydney activists formed a coalition of lesbian and gay groups which became the Gay Solidarity Group. On 24 June they staged a Saturday morning protest march around the Sydney CBD, a forum on the international gay movement and a night-time, fun event for our community. And so, the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was born!
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