So who was the first gay in the village?
So who was the first gay in the village?, filmed and produced in 2016.
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Way Back When - Consulting Historians Tiny Empire Collective
So who was the first gay in the village? This was the question that Anne. E Stewart posed on stage at the Daylesford Convent during a ChillOut Festival show several years ago. We spoke to Annie about how and why she created her performance piece.
Anne E. Stewart: So I think it really was based around my children growing up in a gay town and my son once in about grade five, all these boys arrived for a party and he was walking down the drive way and he said: ‘Mum, Mum, tell this young boy’ – he was a bit of a redneck I’d say – ‘you know gay people don’t you Mum?’ I thought that was a bit curious. Then there was another time when he used to sing the playschool song as ‘gayschool’. It was just all these little incidences of kids growing up that made me interested. This is a really gay friendly town and I wonder why it’s so gay friendly?
Then one night at a party I’d had a couple of drinks and because Chill Out was always so much fun, I thought I want to get involved, I want to do something. And I was thinking of calling it, ‘So tell them Mum, you know gay people’ and a friend who’s gay and does theatre work said: ‘Annie, that title, it’s a little bit, you know, it’s not going to work’, so then we came up with, ‘So who was the first gay in the village?’
So I thought, oh great I’ll just go to the library and I’ll start doing the research and it will all be good and I’ll have it. But of course, nothing has been written about this. Because I’d been involved in Daylesford for so long, I’d been on school council, the Swiss-Italian, just you know I’m a community person, and I thought I know a few people I can ask. And then I just started investigating and asking.
As I said, as it went on and I was looking into the research, there’d be people who’d say, ‘Oh I never realized they were gay.’ It’s not the first thing I would ask people, but because I was researching it and looking into why it became so gay friendly, I just started to uncover lots of little stories.
And when your profession is a story-teller, you sort of have this radar and things sort of come to you, attract to you, you know so it just started tumbling on. And then of course the other thing was I’d always heard there was a gay and lesbian archive down in Melbourne so I thought I’ll go down and see what I can find there. Because I did a lot of oral interviews, but when I went down it was so interesting for me because I was like, ‘Oh I remember that poster up on the Town Hall’, that was some of the women’s balls they used to have and it was girls only so, women only, so they’d be out at different locations. So yeah it just slowly came to me, that this show, there’s a lot in it.
I started way back at white settlement, moved on to the bush ranger, then of course Gwyneth Wisewould you would’ve heard of, then Norman Lindsay who was born in Creswick with his family, it was reputed that his brother Robert was gay, he was a costume maker. So just all these little snippets.
The form of the story was, ‘So was Captain Moonlight the first gay in the village?’ was someone else? And you know it, that way I could just add all these different characters.
The thing that turned at the edge for this gay friendly town, was when a lot of the gay businesses started this chamber of commerce and that was what really sort of got it moving along.
Daylesford sort of started exploring these ideas and kids were accepted more because often they did have two same sex parents. So you know we were a little bit at the forerun of it, so I’m really interested to see how that might be developed for other regions so people feel safe with it. Because some people find it threatening the idea of same sex couples. So perhaps we might have a little bit more understanding than some places that we might be able to share with other communities.
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So who was the first gay in the village?
Early Lesbian and Gay Daylesford
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Story education resources
Education Daylesford Stories Education Kit
This education resource links to relevant learning outcomes in the Level 9 and Level 10 AusVELs curriculum. It utilises a range of primary sources including audio profiles, short films and images; inquiry and research-based activities as well as group work and critical discussion.