Friday, December 5, 2008

New Day Dawning: History of Sydney Gay Mardi Gras

The Pride History group has been working hard at documenting Sydney’s Gay, Lesbian and Transgender History with a number of publications. Their most recent, New Day Dawning, is a handsome documentary of the early years of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
The text has been written by Gavin Harris, John Witte and Ken Davis who, like me, were part of the original 1978 Mardi Gras. The book also makes liberal use of quotes from other Mardi Gras participants.
For an old-timer like me, this book is a welcome record of times past. It is refreshing to reflect on the changes that have been achieved in 30 years. That seems a long time, but change never happens as fast as we would like. The frustrations we felt back then are still around to some degree, but we are no longer criminals. Many of us, including myself, are respectable members of the middle classes, happily contributing in our various ways to a society that has found a place for us.
The writers of this book don’t try to offer too much for readers. The chapters are short, informative bites — pacy and interesting. They will be of interest to younger readers, too. Many of the younger gays and lesbians I know are keen to know more about the history of the liberation movement and this book will provide them with accessible information about a time before many of them were born.
But the book is especially valuable for the many photographs. The cover features a Jenny Templin photo the late, lamented Doris Fish at her tackiest. The back has a William Yang photo of a quartet of gays wearing tee-shirts spelling out POOF. I wasn’t, but I could have been one of them.
I looked closely at all the other photos in the book hoping to see myself, but while I recognise the scenes, I must have stayed just out of range of the lenses. Perhaps I was busy having fun.
Some of the wonderful posters from the early days of Mardi Gras are reproduced in glorious colour on the inside front covers. Click on the title of this blog entry for details of how to obtain the book or write to: Pride History Group, GPO Box 415 Sydney NSW 2001.

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