Gai Lemon - A Matter of Time
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Gai Lemon

“When I came out in 1988, it was a watershed in a political context. Labor was coming to government for the first time in a long time here in Queensland. There was a sense of optimism that changes were afoot. Brisbane was still very much a country town, but the World Expo had started that year in Brisbane and it made significant changes to the landscape on a number of different levels. I don’t just mean the physical landscape, but having that influx of culture and the whole change that was redolent to that was just remarkable. It was a powerful time, but there were still the lingering effects of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen regime.

There were laws that were still in place that were incredibly repressive. There was the deviant law, which was a delightful piece of legislation that had been enshrined. Certain types of people could not be served in a public place – people who were obviously deviant, like paedophiles. But they specifically mentioned homosexuals. Being a gay man was still a criminal offence, still on the statute books in Queensland. It was interesting because the whole thing around lesbians was never acknowledged. Lesbians have never been outlawed in this country.

There was always that old joke, ‘Welcome to Queensland. Turn your clocks back a hundred years’. It really did feel like you were walking backwards in time. It took a long time to rectify that. I think we’re still struggling on some levels. There’s still discrimination in areas such as private religious schools, around being a gay or lesbian person in those schools. So we are still trying to agitate for change.”

 

To purchase the book North of the Border: Stories from the A Matter of Time Project, click here.