The impact one woman had on Australian attitudes towards lesbianism will be discussed at the next Pride History Group meeting.
The group’s vice president, Rebecca Jennings, will discuss the life of Sandra Willson, who was New South Wales’ longest-serving female prisoner.
Willson served 25 years in prison for the murder of a taxi driver in the 1950s. It is widely assumed her time in prison had more to do with her sexuality than any crime she was accused of.
Wilson was released in 1977 after a mass campaign by the Women’s Liberation Movement. Her imprisonment and arrest created a wave of debate about sexuality and lesbianism from the ’50s through to the ’80s and a shift in social and legal attitudes. After her release, she became a consultant on the TV show Prisoner.
From the ’70s onwards I think there’s been a gradual shift, Jennings said of the social attitude towards lesbianism. [But] I think there’s still a long way to go.
Jennings is a research fellow in modern history at Macquarie University and is the author of Tomboys and Bachelor Girls and A Lesbian History of Britain.

info: The event will be hosted at Benledi, 186 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe on Saturday, September 27 from 2pm. RSVP to phg@unwired.com.au by September 24.

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