This month the Star Observer will celebrate 39 years of reporting on the latest queer news, issues, and current affairs around Australia. To mark our 39th birthday, we’ve decided to look back at our first.
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In 1980, the gay community was being publicly persecuted in Australia and abroad.
In Washington DC, a lesbian police officer filed discrimination charges against the city’s police department after she was reportedly removed by her superiors for being gay.
And in Tehran, four people convicted of sexual offences—including one convicted of homosexuality—were masked in ceremonial “hoods of the dead” before being publicly stoned to death in southern Iran.
Here in Australia, planning was underway for the Sixth National Conference for Lesbians and Homosexual Men, due to take place in Sydney later in the year.
In Melbourne the year before, “Gays are taking the Offensive” had been chosen by the fifth conference as the theme for the sixth, suggesting that the Australian gay community were ready to take up their cause for themselves on a very broad front.
Subjects to be discussed at the conference included gays in schools, lesbians and child custody, and gays and self defence.
At the same time, Reverends Gordon Moyes and Fred Nile were challenging the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) over the proposed leasing of a disused church building.
The building, located in Surry Hills, had been vacant for some time, and the MCC had applied for a lease on the building.
“We believe the Christian Church has no right to lease a church to a homosexual church where ‘holy unions’ similar to marriage will be performed,” wrote Moyes in his parish bulletin.
“We intend to make clear our attitudes that every homosexual like the rest of us, is a sinner who needs to be redeemed by God’s grace.”
Against this local and global backdrop sat the Star Observer, gearing to celebrate its very first birthday with a party at Patchs Disco in Sydney.
“When we began publishing we had no idea that we would come this far,” read an editorial in the birthday issue.
“Our main problem continues to be adequate finance to be able to provide you with a free newspaper. It has not been easy at times, but there are moments when it all seems worthwhile.
“We would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks and appreciation to all of you for your support and encouragement throughout the year.”
While the social, cultural, and political climate has changed in many ways over the past 39 years, the importance of the Star Observer and its passionate team has not.
We’d like to thank all of our supporters, old and new, for helping to ensure the Star Observer has been able to continue keeping the community informed while providing a platform for a diverse range of queer voices.
Here’s to our 40th birthday next year.