When the first issue of Sydney Star Observer was published over 30 years ago, Sydney’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community was slowing emerging.
Just three years later, HIV/AIDS began its terrible rampage and the identity of our community changed. The virus was decimating gay men in Sydney and the need to distribute information about HIV and how to stop it spreading was paramount.
Meeting this desperate need became the role of the Star and its contribution to educating our community about HIV in these early years cannot be overstated.
The paper also became a place for people to grieve for loved ones lost to AIDS as well as pay tribute to the incredible efforts of our community in combating the virus and supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS.
By virtue of these functions, the Star quickly became a touchstone for our community’s response to HIV which further cemented its pivotal role in shaping our community’s identity, a role which the paper continues to play today.
Eighteen months into the epidemic, the AIDS Council of NSW was established to help our community deal with the crisis. Next year, ACON marks 25 years of service to the GLBT community and people with HIV. Throughout this quarter century of service, Sydney Star Observer has been an important ally in our efforts to prevent HIV transmission, support people affected by HIV/AIDS and promote the general health and wellbeing of the GLBT community.
By providing space for our campaign advertisements, by highlighting our work through editorial coverage, and by supporting our fundraising activities, Sydney Star Observer has been instrumental in helping ACON and our partner agencies create and nurture the caring culture which keeps our community healthy and strong.
So on behalf of the board, staff, volunteers and supporters of ACON, we’d like to congratulate Sydney Star Observer on producing 1000 editions and thank the various editors, staff and readers of the paper over the last 30 years for the important contribution they have made to the health and wellbeing of our community.
— ACON, Mark Orr, president and Nicolas Parkhill, chief executive officer
Congratulations on your 1000th issue of Sydney Star Observer.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the positive impact your paper has had on the fight for marriage equality. Let’s hope the headline ‘Marriage equality becomes law’ happens one day very soon.
— Alex Greenwich, Australian Marriage Equality
Congratulations on reaching the historic milestone of 1000 editions and 30 years of publishing. The success and longevity of SSO is a testament to the passion, skills and commitment of the many staff, contributors and volunteers over the years. It is also a reflection of the strong identity of the community SSO serves.
From the decriminalisation of homosexuality to the onset of the HIV AIDS epidemic, SSO has been there to not just report but also agitate and lead the community responses.
This role has made SSO more than just a record of the day. The paper has long been an important forum for the community to discuss and debate the issues and share ideas and experiences.
— Barry O’Farrell, NSW Opposition Leader
If we cast our minds back to 1979 when Sydney Star Observer was founded, it was a very different time. The first Mardi Gras parade the year before had ended in violence and mass arrests. The courage and determination of gay and lesbian activists had just started to break the barriers of discrimination. Rights we take for granted now were being fought for.
Sydney Star Observer quickly emerged as an important voice for gay and lesbian Sydney. For the next 30 years, SSO played a crucial role in fanning the winds of change that blew through NSW.
When the HIV epidemic first hit, SSO became a crucial source of information about the virus. It remains so to this day.
SSO has supported the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation from the beginning. When Bobby Goldsmith became sick in early 1984, his friends organised a fundraiser to raise money for his care. They ran an ad in the Star and the paper wrote a report about the fundraiser. After Bobby’s death, the Star ran a moving obituary.
When the Foundation was established in July 1984, it was announced through a notice in the Star. In our early years, the Star was the major vehicle for our organisation to promote fundraising activities and report on our operations. SSO continues to be a generous supporter of the foundation and our clients, and we are immensely grateful.
The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation warmly congratulates Sydney Star Observer on its 1000th issue. We commend the staff, volunteers, supporters and board for serving the gay and lesbian community so well and for their unswerving dedication to the cause of supporting people living with HIV.
— Bev Lange, CEO, BGF
How far we’ve come in 30 years. On behalf of the Australian Greens I’d like to congratulate Sydney Star Observer for its outstanding role in the protection and furtherance of the community’s best interests over this time. And for this, its 1000th issue.
May there be another 30 years and still many more to come.
We Greens are looking ahead too. We will be your voice in Parliament for a more compassionate, sustainable and peaceful world, where some of these past struggles, are exactly that, past and buried in history.
Meanwhile, enjoy the champagne!
— Bob Brown, Leader, Australian Greens
In celebrating the Star Observer’s 30th anniversary, we are not merely celebrating a long-lasting newspaper. We are celebrating a resilient, vibrant community — the Sydney gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. The history of Sydney’s GLBT community and SSO is inextricably intertwined.
In its early years, the Star, along with key organisations and Mardi Gras, helped create and define the Sydney GLBT community. Its importance was not solely limited to reporting the community’s news. It helped foster a strong sense of identity and pride. It provided a community voice and celebrated the community’s achievements. And it continues to do so today.
The Star has played a key role in the community’s campaigns — for homosexual law reform and anti-discrimination laws, action on anti-gay violence and legal recognition of same-sex relationships. It has reported both successes and setbacks and encouraged further action where it is needed.
In 1983, when AIDS first became an issue for Australians, the Star was at the forefront providing vital information about the virus itself and how to prevent its spread. It reported on and supported the formation of the first AIDS groups. While the mainstream media frequently resorted to hysteria and sensationalism, the Star’s reporting of AIDS was calm, responsible and informative.
In paying tribute to the Star, I also pay tribute to the many people who have contributed to the Star over the past 30 years. Your commitment, energy and enthusiasm have kept the Star alive and ensured its growth.
Finally, I pay tribute to the Star’s readers. Without your support there would be no reason for the newspaper to appear every week.
— Clover Moore MP, Sydney Lord Mayor
This indeed is a major milestone in the paper’s history. It truly demonstrates SSO’s position in the community.
Since Scott came on board as editor, we have successfully built a relationship between SSO and Team Sydney.
Gay sport has always struggled to be accepted. Since the inception of the dedicated SSO sports page, our 30+ member clubs have been able to raise their profile within the community.
Team Sydney has been extremely grateful to SSO for the space afforded for the promotion of gay and lesbian sport.
This prominent feature has enabled Team Sydney and its member clubs to promote a healthy lifestyle through sport. Team Sydney is very appreciative of your sponsorship. Thank you and your staff for their enthusiasm and drive.
— Geoffrey Radford, Team Sydney
On behalf of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) Committee of Management and its members, we would like to congratulate Sydney Star Observer on its 1000th edition in this its 30th year.
SSO has long provided support for the GLRL and its campaigns, most recently with the successful 58’08 campaign. This support is crucial in ensuring the wider community is kept informed about our work and how they may be able to take action.
SSO generously provides the GLRL with space for a weekly column that allows us to comment on a diverse range of contemporary issues relevant to our community, and keep our community informed of our current activities.
Over the next year the GLRL will continue to campaign for adoption equality and surrogacy reform at a state level, and for anti-discrimination provisions and civil marriage equality at the Federal level. We know that as a community publication, SSO will be there providing support for both the GLRL and the community.
— Benjamin Keats and Kellie McDonald
Co-convenors, NSW GLRL
Wow … what a milestone! Congratulations to everybody at the Sydney Star Observer on your 1000th issue. The Committee of Harbour City Bears thanks you for the fantastic support you’ve shown us over the years. We know our members appreciate the unrivalled coverage you give to our events and community concerns.
Time and time again SSO has proved itself to be a community newspaper with its focus on community issues and organisations. You really are a star!
— Harbour City Bears committee
As the Federal Member for Wentworth, it is with immense pleasure that I warmly congratulate SSO on achieving the significant milestone of 30 years of journalism and the publication of your 1000th issue.
Those in the community on the frontline will remember the early conflicts in the fight for equality, struggles inconceivable to many of your readers who were yet to be born as the first SSO hit the streets.
It is heartening to see young men and women who can now proudly assert their identity, confident of their place in our society, yet blissfully unaware of these first battles and particularly the role SSO played in forging the united and strong GLBT community we value so much today.
Through the professionalism of balanced and insightful journalism, SSO has played a vital advocacy role in elevating the issues of the GLBT community to the national stage. Many of the campaigns that have resulted in legislative change and broader social acceptance of the GLBT community have been initiated or championed by SSO.
As Australia’s oldest and highest circulating GLBT publication, you have repeatedly demonstrated an ability to cover difficult and confronting issues with empathy and sensitivity.
I wish Sydney Star Observer continued success and look forward to another 30 years and 1000 issues.
— Malcolm Turnbull, Wentworth MP,
Congratulations to the Star Observer on the 1000th issue of SSO.
In a world of superficial distractions and illusion, this is a huge achievement. The successive editors, staff and supporters deserve the thanks of the GLBTIQ community. Beyond that, SSO has contributed to making our country at large a more informed and less prejudiced place.
I remember the early editions 30 years ago. They traced the slow and painful steps throughout Australia to get rid of the criminal laws that penalised gays for their sexual identity.
Then, by the mid-1980s, AIDS had struck. How clearly I recall the early stories. The idea that HIV was a specifically gay disease. That it was somehow connected with the use of poppers. There was panic and alarm. SSO was always a source of scientific facts and good community policies. For that contribution alone, SSO played a big part in saving lives and upholding basic rights.
The struggle for equality has continued. The former federal Government regarded equalising tax and pension rights as “not a priority”. Fortunately, following an election, changes to 100 federal laws were enacted last year. It happened in the end with astonishingly little opposition. It just shows how a few rednecks can hold up reform. SSO has identified and chronicled their disreputable acts.
SSO hasn’t all been serious. The embarrassing photos, sporting coverage. The op eds, alternatively witty and angry. The personal advertisements we never ever read. For every horrible story (Nigeria and Uganda) there have been stories to lift spirits and make us proud (Matthew Mitcham).
We cannot just assume that SSO will go on forever. Last month, the Washington Blade, 40 years the journal of gay Americans, folded. So all citizens with an interest in the story of equality in Australia have an investment in SSO. We should support this publication. By issue 2000, the Australian struggle for equality may be over.
— The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG
On behalf of the Government and people of New South Wales, I warmly congratulate the GLBT community on the 30th anniversary of Sydney Star Observer.
For three sometimes turbulent and very eventful decades, SSO has informed and challenged its readers and the wider community. SSO has played a particularly distinguished role as a recorder and protagonist in the two epic stories of the past 30 years — the battle for civil and political rights and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
I pay tribute to the staff and supporters of Sydney Star Observer over these 30 years. Everyone involved with the paper, past and present, deserves enormous credit for making SSO a success.
That success has helped shape a more modern and inclusive Australia. Our work is by no means over, so I look forward to supporting you to make NSW an even safer, more inclusive place for all.
— Nathan Rees, former NSW Premier
We wish Sydney Star Observer the very best on the occasion of its 1000th issue and its 30th year as a key voice and forum for gay and lesbian Sydney.
You have been an important chronicler of our organisation and community’s history, both the moments of triumph and those of loss and frustration. A community is made up of many different elements, from a network of personal relationships to the kind of shared experience that Mardi Gras and others provide. The media can often play a vital role in building community and there is no doubt how important the Star has been in fostering a sense of common purpose and exploring gay and lesbian identity over the past 30 years. You have already created an incredibly important legacy and we look forward to picking up SSO in years to come.
— New Mardi Gras Board
What can I say about SSO aside from CONGRATULATIONS on reaching 1000!
I have had a long personal history with SSO over the years as I have worked and been around all the traps in Oxford St and Newtown.
SSO has always been a reliable and political paper always keeping the gay/ lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender word out there and into the future. More importantly they have always supported and been there for the community and it’s nice to know they will still be there well into the future.
Wishing the staff (past and present) a happy 1000th.
— Roger Z and the Oxford Hotel team
We congratulate SSO for an enduring and powerful commitment to the education and health of people with HIV, partners, families and friends and the prevention of HIV.
Since the earliest editions, SSO has provided commentary, news and a significant venue to assist organisations like Positive Life NSW to provide education and support to and about gay men and others with HIV in this community. Through the ’80s and ’90s, SSO chronicled the impact of HIV through what seemed like endless pages of obituaries and discussions about treatments. With us, SSO has celebrated improved HIV treatments and health for many people with HIV.
In the week of World AIDS Day, it’s an opportunity to express our appreciation for the ongoing role of SSO, its staff and board in informing, educating and supporting the rights and interests of people with HIV and the communities most affected by it in NSW.
— Rob Lake, CEO, Positive Life NSW
Everyone at Queer Out West 89.32GLF FM is so pleased to see that you have reached such a mammoth milestone! Your 1000th issue — what an achievement.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank SSO for everything they have done for Queer Out West and western Sydney.
Our show and your paper are two of the few media resources for the GLBT community in western Sydney. Your determination to keep the newspaper distributed out west — despite financial hindrances — is a credit to you. It has meant all those queers out west can keep abreast of the news in Sydney and nationally.
Your sponsoring our show has brought Queer Out West many more listeners.
SSO’s assistance has meant our show has been able to stay on air. With your stories and advertising we were able to find sponsors to pay the on air fees plus attract new guest presenters to keep the show alive and fresh. Queer Out West and no doubt western Sydney would not be the same without this wonderful community paper.
— The Queer Out West team
Our sexy and supportive media partner (in crime…) and a great weekly read, were would we be without you — our source of news, views and community reviews, our keeper, our advocate and our conscience?
Your cultural coverage, social insights, our community’s calendar and of course our drunken moments plastered across the pics section! Aaah… it’s been a wonderful 1000 editions.
On behalf of the Queer Screen team, past and present, congratulations on a milestone well met and thank you for the great work you do.
— Lex Lindsay, Queer Screen
Congratulations on the publication of your 1000th issue.
We started SSO advertising 30 years ago with the Unicorn Hotel. This was followed by Town Hall Hotel in Balmain 25 years ago, and then DCM nightclub and the Manor House boutique hotel 15 years ago.
To date, the Midnightshift and the Saddle Bar continues to support SSO and considers it as an important part of Sydney’s GLBT media reporting.
Only you know how many hours you put into this achievement. I’m glad many people will be able to benefit from all your work. We are all proud of you.
— Tim Berry, Midnightshift
It is with great pleasure I say congratulations to all of your team at Sydney Star Observer, both past and present, on behalf of the board and staff of Twenty10.
1000 editions is a magnificent achievement and a milestone to be proud of. I am confident that the number of young people we have supported as a result of them seeing a community listing or article about Twenty10 in your newspaper would at least match your 1000 mark.
We know that reliable and accessible information is one of the key needs of young people of diverse genders and sexualities. Free media, such as your newspaper, are invaluable in meeting this need and offering a forum in which young people can see the diversity of their communities reflected back to them. We are proud that Twenty10 is part of this record and look forward to being part of the next 1000 editions
— Rebecca Reynolds, managing director, Twenty10