The late Barbara Farrelly’s partner Frances Rand reflects on Farrelly’s important work in the LGBTI community and her beautiful spirit.

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Star Observer’s first lesbian editor, Barbara Farrelly, has passed away.

Barbara worked at Star Observer from 1992 to 1994, at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

She became editor in 1993, and later won the Terry Bell Award for journalism for her coverage of the death in custody of Brendan James Law, who was found hanging in his cell after being taunted and raped by fellow prisoners.

Her time as editor saw rapid growth in the paper’s circulation, which reached 70,000 readers by the time she left.

In the meantime, Barb had started going out with the publisher of Lesbians on the Loose, Frances Rand.

LOTL was also growing rapidly and after a bit of successful head-hunting, Barb left Star Observer to become co-editor and publisher.

They were to produce LOTL monthly until the beginning of 1999, when current owner Silke Bader took over.

During that period, LOTL covered stories as diverse as the hardships faced by Muslim lesbians and famous people like Ellen DeGeneres coming out, and it soon had the largest per capita readership of any lesbian magazine in the world.

It was the heyday of gay and lesbian publishing, and Barbara was a fearless and frank editor, never afraid to write a story.

Stories about a lesbian paedophile who was jailed and the transgender controversy which faced the Lesbian Space Project were two of many issues she covered.

Barbara was also a kind and giving person, and took great pleasure in knowing many lesbians who had previously been isolated but were now, through LOTL, getting to meet others.

However, Barbara’s health was suffering. She was later to be diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and in 1999 she and Frances moved to the south coast.

Barbara became active in the local community, cooking for Meals on Wheels and organising an arts festival.

Soon her disease meant these activities weren’t possible, so then she began connecting with fellow COPD sufferers, and people who loved her writing, on her blog The Departure Lounge.

As soon as marriage equality passed in parliament, Barbara and Frances contacted a celebrant and on January 9, the first possible day, they married.

This gave her a new lease on life, but it wasn’t enough and on April 3, aged 61, she ran out of breath.

She leaves behind a wife, seven bothers and sisters, 13 in-laws, 18 nieces and nephews, and a cat, Lucy.

barbara farrelly frances rand

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