by Natalie Brown
In the beginning, there was CAMP!
Who pioneered gay activism in Australia? Well, it all started when a group of activists decided to start a Campaign Against Moral Persecution, and the community group CAMP was formed in 1970 in Sydney.
In 1971, the Brisbane branch of CAMP was launched and, led by some determined activists, went a step further, acquiring premises for gay folk to meet and hang out. The location was 379 George St, Brisbane, and the nation’s first gay club, ‘Camp Club’, known as ‘379’, was born.
Amidst attempts by Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen to shut it down, the club flourished, kept afloat for many years through the tireless work of its volunteers. The telephone line on the premises served as a counselling service, as it was the only contact point at the time for people who wanted information, or needed to talk about their experiences, during the dark days when being gay was illegal.
Later when Camp Club folded, its resources were pooled into the community group now known as QAHC.
On April 15 there will be a reunion held at the QAHC premises (30 Helen St, Newstead), and there will be a re-enactment of 379, as a ’70s party.
If you are or have been associated with gay activism in Queensland, send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org for a photo montage to be shown on the night. You can also join founding members of CAMP at 1pm on February 19 at 379 George St, to be photographed with a banner to be shown at the reunion.
Mark April 15 on your calendar, and get along to 379 on February 19, decked out in your ’70s gladrags, if you can still fit into them!