A new book celebrating Melbourne’s queer past hit shelves in April.

Secret Histories of Queer Melbourne was published by the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA), drawing on its extensive holdings, annual history walks and interviews with women and men who were there.

A hundred photographs were also taken from the National Library of Australia, the State Library of Victoria, the Australian War Memorial and private collections to help make up the book.

The book is the first extended exploration of the gay and lesbian history of Melbourne and is spread over 50 illustrated chapters, with a dozen contributors bringing the secret history to life.

The city’s iconic locations have their own homosexual histories, with Myer, St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, St Patrick’s Cathedral and the State Library all harbouring their own queer histories, along with the parks, pubs and the Outer at the MCG.

ALGA president Graham Willett, who was one of the book’s editors, said Melbourne had a marvellous queer history

“[It’s] full of pleasure and pain, repression and resistance, love and lust. It is a great pleasure to be able to share it with the world,” he said.

“The history of queer Melbourne is very much a part of the history of the wider Melbourne community. Here we have Melbourne people and Melbourne places all seen through a very queer eye.”

The book reveals Melbourne was the home of a rich, underground subculture in which gay and lesbian people made lives for themselves against the brutality of the law, the church, the press and respectable opinion.

“With the book in one hand and a city map in the other, people can use Secret Histories of Queer Melbourne to help make history come alive on the very streets where so much of it was fought for and made,” ALGA vice-president, and another of the book’s editors, Daniel Marshall said.

Some of the stories covered include the flogging of John Morrison, the bushranger Captain Moonlite and his great love for James Nesbitt, cruising St Kilda Rd and the Yarra banks, Freddie and the Myer window display boys, and plenty on footy players and their fans.

The ALGA published the book with the financial support provided by the City of Melbourne’s Writing About Melbourne Arts Grant Program.

info: For more information or to order the book, visit http://home.vicnet.net.au/~alga

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