The 78’ers Apology

In 1986 I came to Sydney.

A month or so later I was in a taxi one night on my way to god knows where, and during this trip my driver passed a street that looked like paradise. It was filled with young gay men my age. Oxford Street was alive with guys going from bar to bar to club.

I asked what this street was. The driver made a snide remark about the poofs and I asked no more. I was new here and still didn’t know my way around Sydney. Would I ever find this street again?

Image by Kaz - Courtesy of Pixabay
Image by Kaz – Courtesy of Pixabay

In 1998 I volunteered for the OutFM test broadcasts.

Something big was happening that year. It was twenty years since the birth of Mardi Gras. But it wasn’t a celebration of a friendly parade down the street. It was the remembrance of a large group of baby boomers who protested against police violence on ‘gays, women and blacks’.

Our radio station was run by what was then known as Generation X (advertisers have since changed the parameters and I don’t agree with those changes). We were in the midst of some of Mardi Gras’ golden years. The festival ran for a month and attracted international artists. The parade wasn’t as big as now, but every float was a masterpiece. And all of Sydney’s inner city community, straight and queer, joined together for the party of the year!

So how could Mardi Gras be born out of terror?

Mardi Gras Protest March 1978 - Photo from Gay News Network
Mardi Gras Protest March 1978 – Photo from Gay News Network

We were so naive. We interviewed the 78’ers who were ambushed by cops, bashed senseless, but didn’t retreat. They had had enough. They stayed outside the police station bailing out who they could. And they didn’t go home. The next day the press named a number of the disobedient protesters, causing humiliation and job losses.

The 78ers inside Parliament

But without them, we wouldn’t be us.

And now in 2016 there’s an apology to these brave comrades. It’s been nearly forty years, but it had to come. And I thank you for making my life better and brighter than yours was.

But society always finds new demons. Someone else to be scared of. Some new group to apologise to down the track.

Watch the apology here.


One Reply to “The 78’ers Apology”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: