78ers Ask Qtopia To Reconsider Old Police Station As Location For Sydney LGBT Museum

78ers Ask Qtopia To Reconsider Old Police Station As Location For Sydney LGBT Museum
Image: Qtopia CEO Greg Fisher and NSW Premier Chris Minns Facebook.

A group of 78ers have called on Sydney’s Qtopia and the NSW Government to restart the project with full consultation with the community before transforming the old Darlinghurst Police Station into an LGBTQI Museum.

‘Re-Start This Project With Full Community Engagement’

According to a statement from the Original 78ers Association, groups such as the Original 78ers Collective, First Mardi Gras, the Mature Age Gays, 55 Upity, and the Pride History Group have not been contacted, nor “properly” consulted by Qtopia. 

They have called for “deep consultation” about the choice of a location before any money is spent on transforming it into Qtopia. 

“We urge both the Qtopia initiators and the Minns Labor government to reach out to us to restart this project with full community engagement and an open mind about the location.”

‘The Darlinghurst Police Station Was Never Ours’

Talking about the history of the Darlinghurst police station, the statement read, “This is a site of routine, daily police bashings over decades – a state torture centre. 

“Yes, LGBTQI+ people were bashed there on the night of the first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on June 24, 1978, but they were bashed, raped and humiliated there many other times, along with Aboriginal people, sex workers, and anyone else whom police there decided should be punished.

The statement continued, “The Darlinghurst Police Station was never “ours” to be “returned” to us. Some of us can never go back there because of the traumatic triggering it induces.” 

In an article in the Daily Mail, 78er, and one of the statement’s signatories, Peter Murphy recalled the abuse he received at the hands of NSW Police after being arrested the night of the first Mardi Gras in June 1978.

“I remember walking in through the door and the guy just turned me around and started punching me in the head,” Murphy said. 

“He punched me in the head all the way around the wall ’til the other wall and I collapsed and by the end, my body was convulsing.”

Funding And A Permanent Location For Qtopia

In February, the Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch Foundation announced that they would donate $1 million to fund Qtopia.

On April 19, NSW’s new Labor government announced the former Darlinghurst police station as the permanent home for Qtopia.

First Mardi Gras Inc., a community association for 78ers, welcomed the announcement.

“First Mardi Gras Inc. congratulates the NSW Government on their funding of the Qtopia Museum. We look forward to it being established in the old Darlinghurst Police Station to serve both the Sydney and the wider Australian LGBTIQA+ community,” the association said in a statement provided to Star Observer.

Citing the Victoria Pride Centre as an example of a Queer unifying success story, the statement explained, “We want Qtopia to succeed in fulfilling all the hopes and dreams of many like former High Court Justice Michael Kirby who over decades have called for the creation of a new cultural institution that will do justice to our long, rich, and varied queer history.” 

We will include a response from Qtopia Sydney when we receive it.

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2 responses to “78ers Ask Qtopia To Reconsider Old Police Station As Location For Sydney LGBT Museum”

  1. I think it a very appropriate building for Sydney to finally have a Gay Museum/Pride Centre. . QTOPIA has previously stated how it will operate for the community. I spent a night in there on the Saturday night of Queens Birthday weekend in 1975 arrested for drinking on unlicensed premises with about a hundred or so gay men, It was also a scene of barricade of the cops after the Club 80 raids in 1983. .I can’t think of any where better for the centre. Of course naysayers didn’t offer an alternative of where they would like the centre to be located.
    We should be happy that the Government has come along and made sure we have this centre and it will be great if more big donations come in.
    I am looking forward to the grand opening and hopefully very soon.

  2. Agree this project needs a broader consultative approach and a clearer vision of its purpose. Will it be just a museum for past relics, which is important, but will it also create opportunities, as Michael Kirby has noted, for a cultural hub or institution, much like the fabulous Pride Centre in St.Kilda. The later has been tried before in Sydney but failed I think because it did not get sufficient vollie support nor government/financial support but maybe now’s the time to try again and with sufficient funds, support of the government (in monetary and property terms) volunteers and community/philanthropic money, it can better ensure this possibility. Overall however it will require collaboration across the broader GLBTI + communities.

    As for using the old blood soaked cop shop, it is not a matter of ‘reclaiming’ this building, as the commentator has rightly noted, it never was ours to be reclaimed. It’s not like reclaiming the use of terms/words previously used to denigrate us. And, yes there will be people whose experience, including my own, will find it difficult to enter that building due to past trauma and the triggering entering such a space may cause.