Gay studies

Midway through this account of his life as a gay doctor who specialised in sexually transmitted infections, David Bradford diagnoses his first case of AIDS. It is February 1985 and Bradford is the director of the Melbourne Communicable Diseases Centre (MCDC) and the chief venereologist of Victoria. His patient James ...

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The rash of unsolved murders of gay men along the Sydney coastline during the 1980s and early 1990s has been in the news again. In 2013, Australian Story ran a feature on the quest of American Steve Johnson to have the coronial ruling of suicide overturned for his younger brother Scott, who died at North Head in 1988. Lateline followed up ...

Emanuel Levy has had a prestigious career as a senior critic at Variety, professor of film and sociology, and jury member at fifty-four international film festivals. His exhaustive account of the careers of five gay male auteurs is peppered with quotes from his own interviews with them. This awfully titled book may frustrate some readers, including Levy's p ...

Historian Garry Wotherspoon's history of gay Sydney was first published in 1991 as City of the Plain. Over the years it became a classic text, perhaps the classic text, of Australian gay male history. I have a well-worn copy myself with copious notes in the margins and dog-eared pages. A quarter of a century later, Wotherspoon has revisited the ori ...

It is almost twenty-five years since Garry Wotherspoon's City of the Plain (1991) was published. In his ground-breaking history of Sydney's gay subculture, he stated that the 'history of life for lesbians in Sydney ... is more properly part of women's history'. Rebecca Jennings seeks to redress that gap in Unnamed Desires. She offers a nuanced unde ...

John Burbidge’s The Boatman was first published last year in India, by Yoda Press. Its moving afterword describes Burbidge’s return to India last year for the book launch and his attendance at an LGBT pride march there. Burbidge was struck by how strongly the cause of sexual rights had been embraced by other elements of Indian society who also face discri ...

Does the title of this anthology, heralded by its editors as the first collection of Australian gay/lesbian/queer poetry, refer to the myth of Pandora’s pithos? Hesiod’s version of the story, which sees Pandora as the unleasher of all manner of evils on the (‘rational’/patriarchal) world, has been interrogated by feminist scholars who see Pandora in an older incarnation of ‘gift-giver’, bestower of plenitude, crosser of boundaries. Or does ‘Out of the Box’ have a more colloquial sense – ‘exceptional’, ‘surprising’? Whatever the reasoning behind the title, Michael Farrell and Jill Jones have made choices which should provoke debate (among other things) about gay and lesbian identity and community, and about the relationship between poet and reader.

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I recently watched a DVD of The Big Chill (1983). The film’s melancholy over the lost radicalism of the 1960s pervades What Happened to Gay Life?, Robert Reynolds’s new book. One might guess that a book about gay – once synonymous with happy life might feature a bit of glitter and laughter, but this is not the book’s point.

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This is a strange assortment of pieces. To someone who doesn’t move in any gay community, the anthology’s chief problem is its fissiparousness. There has to be a distinction between gay writing and writing by authors who are gay. The majority of contributors to Graeme Aitken’s book take gay life to be their subject, but several are included because they are gay, while not necessarily employing gay themes, or doing so indirectly.

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Living the queer life in the inner-city suburbs of Sydney, it is hard not to become complacent, smug even. Like a magnet, Sydney draws lesbians, gays, bisexuals, queers, you name it, from all over the country. If you’ve grown up in rural Victoria, moved to Melbourne after compulsory schooling, and then fifteen years later have hit a certain mid-gay-life ennui, where else is there to go?

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