pride march adelaide

40 Years: 1973-2013

 

The 1973 Gay Pride Week (GPW) was a national event with activities held in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. The 40th anniversary of GPW in 2013 provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the early years of gay liberation, the various archival collections of GLBT materials in Australia and the importance of preserving that history.

 

The Adelaide 1973 Gay Pride Week

 

The 1973 Gay Pride Week was the first public celebration of Gay Pride held in Adelaide. The ‘Proud Parade’ held on Saturday 15th September was the first (and only) Gay Pride March held in Adelaide until its 30th anniversary in 2003. Since then, the Adelaide Pride March has opened the annual Feast Queer Cultural Festival.

 

Gay Liberation

 

Gay Liberation was a movement whose time had come, given impetus by the social and political revolutions of the 1960s demanding an end to oppression, discrimination and inequality: Black Power, Women’s Liberation, the Student revolution movement, the Moratorium movement to end the war in Vietnam, the counter-culture movement. These began in the United States and spread throughout the western world.

 

Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation

 

The young Australian political scientist Dennis Altman’s book Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation was published in Australia in 1972. In May of that year in Adelaide, the drowning of academic Dr Duncan (with suspected Vice-Squad police involvement) brought the persecution of homosexuals to the front pages of the local newspapers and to the attention of the public at large.

 

Gay Activists’ Alliance

 

The visit of Dennis Altman to Adelaide University in August 1972 inspired the formation of gay liberation consciousness – raising groups in Adelaide, and out of these in May 1973 the Gay Activists’ Alliance group (GAA) was formed. Its aim was, in the words of one of its organisers Jon Ruwoldt, “to tackle and confront society as a united front. Militant and proud rather than humble and accepting.” GAA organised the Adelaide Gay Pride Week. It published a magazine Boiled Sweets. In 1974 Jon Ruwoldt opened the Dr Duncan Revolution Bookshop, the first gay bookshop in Australia.

 

GAA organised the Adelaide Gay Pride Week. It published a magazine Boiled Sweets. In 1974 John Ruwoldt opened the Dr Duncan Revolution Bookshop, the first gay bookshop in Australia.

 

The 1973 Gay Pride Week was the high point of the first wave of gay and lesbian activism in Australia. By the time male homosexuality was decriminalised in SA in 1975, GAA in Adelaide was no more. The radical politics of zaps and consciousness-raising groups were over. The legacy of GAA was the importance of coming out, and gay pride.

 

In 1977, the Adelaide Homosexual Alliance (AHA) was formed. It continued the fight for equality by calling the government of the day to account, a less radical approach than that used by GAA.

 

Notes by Ian Purcell