In July 1979, Michael Glynn bravely published the first edition of the Star Observer to support Australia’s burgeoning gay liberation movement. The year before, in late June 1978, protesters were arrested by NSW police as they marched into Hyde Park demanding the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The date of the first Mardi Gras parade marked the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village. Less than a decade earlier on June 28, 1969, hundreds of gay men and black trans women fearlessly fought back when police raided a gay bar in New York City. From Christopher Street to Oxford Street, the battle for LGBTQI rights rose-up in response to police brutality supported and fuelled by mainstream prejudice.

This month marks the Star Observer’s 41st anniversary. Since 1979 the Star Observer has served our community without fail. In the early 1980s, when another mysterious virus claimed the lives of gay men – first in New York and in San Francisco and then in Sydney and in Melbourne – the Star Observer was there to chronicle our community’s battle with the twin headed beast of misinformation and bigotry. At the start of the AIDS epidemic the Star Observer provided updates and solace in a world that was only too happy to victim blame with misguided morality borne out of vengeance and ignorance.

 Over the last three months, while the world was in lockdown, the Star Observer has continued to serve our community without fail. Since March, hundreds of community and regional newspapers across Australia have stopped publishing; many will never return. Through it all, the Star Observer has chronicled, informed and battled on behalf of the LGBTQI community. In Melbourne and in Sydney, we have remained one of the last surviving print publications still distributed on the street, without a cover charge. Free for the taking. Our digital content is not hidden behind a paywall. Our stories are not doled out to readers based on their prejudices and algorithms. We are here because you, our readers support and demand local, home grown news. And because local businesses know that advertising with large conglomerates alone will not support our local LGBTQI community. Our stories will not be told if we don’t tell them.

Our community has been particularly hard hit by the loss of jobs in the arts, hospitality and service sectors as a result of the recent lockdown. This month we mark our 41st anniversary by celebrating Australia’s LGBTQI owned small businesses. As the lockdown restrictions ease and we are free to return to the world outside (albeit cautiously) it is important that we support, nurture and champion our own local LGBTQI businesses. If we don’t, we risk living in a monochromatic, corporatised and heteronormative world: in all of its boring dullness.

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