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The Hidden History of Homosexual Australia (2005)

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Title: The Hidden History of Homosexual Australia (2005)

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27 February 2005 (Australia)  »

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Very thorough
31 March 2009 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

I have just watched the most interesting and thorough *Hidden History of Australian Homosexuality*, which screened on SBS recently.

It started with the transportation of convicts from England to Australia, interviewing two male and two female academics who had researched the topic and really knew their stuff. At this point, the backgrounds to the interviews are black, and the interviewer is absent throughout the documentary.

The very early history (ie up to WWI) is illustrated with plenty of stills, and the occasional clip from a period film.

There is some really interesting documentation of homosexual culture from WWI onwards, particularly in terms of women, as they gained financial independence.

Other interviewees (eg David Marr and John Marsden to name just a couple) are called in to talk about the history of homosexual Australia in the 1950s when homosexuality was considered as evil as communism, and gay Australian men left Australia in droves.

For the 1960s, there are many witnesses to the budding gay liberation movement and the police brutality it attracted.

The film also documents the incredibly sad AIDS epidemic, the accidental/on purpose confusion between homosexuals and pedophiles on the part of Australian politicians, and the attempted vilification of Justice Michael Kirby.

For me, the documentary was missing the fun (albeit without rights) and celebration of the Sydney gay scene, for example Les Girls and the Erskineville Hotel, Oxford and King Streets, and more about the gay Mardi Gras. Then again, these things are mostly more 'present' than 'history', and many viewers would have witnessed them first hand, so fair enough.

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