‘Friday essay: on the Sydney Mardi Gras march of 1978‘, The Conversation, 19 February 2016 updated
Considers whether the original Mardi Gras marchers should get a formal apology. A motion calling for an apology was adopted unanimously in the Sydney City Council in 2015 and is soon to be considered in the New South Wales Parliament.
The article sets the 1978 march against the socially oppressive conditions of the time.
As a young émigré in my twenties, from the Queensland bush, like many gay men and lesbians from the country in those days, I was, in effect, an internally displaced person. We were refugees in our own country.
Gay people lived a double life, fearing persecution and loss of employment. Some of them took their own lives. On the night of the march, after initial hesitation, the marchers rallied.
We were sick and tired of being criminalised, pathologised, demonised, of being made to hide who we were and having our rights to live as human beings denied.
Police violence against the marchers was brutal but was resisted. Homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW in 1984. AIDS followed. LGBTI people are still discriminated against.