Qtopia Welcomes 78ers At Private Event
Image: Members of First Mardi Gras at the QTopia viewing. Photos: James McKinney.

— by 78er Robyn Kennedy

On 9 April 2024, Qtopia Sydney hosted a private viewing for members of the 78er organisation First Mardi Gras.

Along with around forty other members and guests, I braved the wet weather to view the exhibits at the museum at the old Darlinghurst Police Station, and hear about next steps for the museum.

The museum in Forbes St now also houses the Loading Dock Theatre, and the former Sub Station is now in use as a small performance space.

Meanwhile the former Toilet Block will soon boast “adult themes” – reflecting its former use – and there are plans to incorporate the old Courts at Taylor Square as well.

Seeing new museum “emotional” moment for 78ers

It was emotional at times as 78ers reflected on their own horrific experiences at the former Darlinghurst Police Station, and remembered friends and lovers lost to AIDS.

Many memories and emotions were triggered by the confronting starkness of the exhibit recreating Ward 17 South at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Photo: James McKinney.

But 78ers are nothing if not resilient, and it wasn’t long before speeches were replaced with spontaneous renditions of the Gay Liberation Quire anthems. We came together to sing “Sex and Vice” (sung to the tune of Edelweiss) and “Thank you Lord for Gay Liberation.”

I was particularly pleased to see the pink and black triangles permanently embedded into the foyer flooring. Both triangles were used in Nazi concentration camps – pink for suspected homosexual men and black for suspected lesbians, gypsies and other “undesirables.”

The triangles have been used as motifs by our community for decades and were adopted by First Mardi Gras as our logo on establishment in 2017.

Photo: James McKinney.

Reclaiming symbols of hate as our pride

It is part of our strength as a community that we reclaim the abusive terms and symbols of hate and use them with pride.

We took back “poofter, dyke, faggot, queer” and all the other ugly names and said, “Yes, I am. So what?”.

We took ownership of the pink and black triangles and wore them as badges of honour – not shame.

And now we have taken over the old Darlinghurst Police Station, so that it can no longer be a place to haunt our memories but a place to celebrate them and our proud and diverse history as a community.

Like many other 78ers present, I was impressed by how far the Museum has come in such a short period of time. I look forward to its future, not just as a museum but as a centre for LGBTQI+ arts and culture in Australia.

Photo: James McKinney.

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2 responses to “Qtopia Welcomes 78ers At Private Event”

  1. Hallo Comrades,
    Wonderful to see other 78ers!
    A few glasses of bubbles ….. the memories flow …..
    Warm regards,
    Peter Mitchell.
    (Regional 78er
    Widjabul/Wia-bal Country,
    Bundjalung Nation)