The Big Discussions
Manifestos such as the one pictured here were an essential part of awareness-raising of political issues.
Some were written by local activists, others came from around the world. They would be copied out and typed and reproduced on a gestetner or via spirit duplication, then a revolutionary and cheap way to mass produce information, and distributed to other group members.
The establishment of Gay Liberation at the University of Melbourne was announced to the student body in early 1972, with the group becoming affiliated with the Union in August. The group soon started to distribute leaflets on- and off-campus, run a stall in the union foyer, conduct their own demonstrations, and join other demonstrations where there was an overlapping of interest.
Friday night became the night for general meetings and the occasion for the "big discussions", debating and working through the gay liberation theories that they were reading about from American and British sources. Rex Rohmer recalls that the discussions were often very hard to follow and that there were always ideas flying around and much heated debate and stabbing in the dark. What exacerbated Gay Lib's debates was the fact that they were held in entirely new territory; basic terms such as "coming out"' and "liberation” were not yet defined, which made them the focus of conflicting interpretations.
Gay Liberation Front
Throughout recorded history, oppressed groups have organised to claim their rights and obtain their needs. Homosexuals, who have been oppressed by physical violence and by ideological and psychological attacks at every level of social interaction, are at last becoming angry.
To you, our gay sisters and brothers, we say that you are oppressed; we intend to show you examples of the hatred and fear with which straight society relegates us to the position and treatment of sub-humans, and to explain their basis. We will show you how we can use our righteous anger to uproot the present oppressive system with its decaying and constricting ideology, and how we, together with other oppressed groups, can start to form a new order, and a liberated life-style, from the alternatives which we offer.
The oppression of gay people starts in the most basic unit of society, the family, consisting of the man in charge, a slave as his wife, and their children on whom they force themselves as the ideal models. The very form of the family works against homosexuality.
At some point nearly all gay people have found it difficult to cope with having the restricting images of man or woman pushed on them by their parents. It may have been from very early on, when the pressures to play with the 'right' toys, and thus prove boyishness or girlishness, drove against the child's inclinations. But for all of us this is certainly a problem by the time of adolescence, when we are expected to prove ourselves socially to our parents as members of the right sex (to bring home a boy/girl friend) and to start being a 'real' (oppressive), young man or 'real' (oppressed) young woman. The tensions can be very destructive.
The fact that gay people notice they are different from other men and women in the family situation, causes them to feel ashamed, guilty and failures. How many of us have really dared to be honest with our parents? How many of us have been thrown out of home? How many of us have been pressured into marriage, sent to psychiatrists, frightened into sexual interia, ostracised, banned, emotionally destroyed - all by our parents?
Family experiences may differ widely, but in their education all children confront a common situation. Schools reflect the values of society in their formal academic, curriculum, and reinforce them in their morality and discipline. Boys learn competitive, ego-building sports, and have more opportunity in science, whereas girls are given emphasis on domestic subjects, needlework etc. Again, we gays were all forced into a rigid sex role which we did not want or need. It is quite common to discipline children for behaving in any way like the opposite sex; degrading titles like 'cissy' and tomboy, are widely used.
In the content of education, homosexuality is generally ignored, even where we know it exists, as in history and literature. Even sex education, which has been considered a new liberal dynamic of secondary schooling, proves to be little more than an extension of Christian morality. Homosexuality is again either ignored, or attacked with moralistic...