Gaywaves was Sydney’s first gay and lesbian radio program. It was considered groundbreaking when it went to air in November 1979, at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in New South Wales.
The program, broadcast weekly on Sydney community radio station 2SER, covered events such as HIV/AIDS rallies, Mardi Gras festivals, music, talkback, news and current affairs, and radio drama serials. Here are just some of the collection highlights from the NFSA's Gaywaves Project, which set out to preserve much of the history of LGBTQIA+ radio in Australia.
This project was made possible through the generosity of a bequest from the estate of Dietmar Hollman.
Gaywaves was Sydney’s first gay and lesbian radio program.
It was considered groundbreaking when it went to air on 2SER FM in November 1979, at a time when homosexual acts between consenting adults were still illegal in New South Wales.
This clip is from the first live broadcast of Gaywaves on 3 January 1980. It features a preface to a discussion with gay rights activists Dennis Altman and Marg McMann about gay identity at the start of the 1980s.
Initially broadcast as a half-hour pre-recorded program on Wednesday evenings, Gaywaves shifted to Thursdays in early 1980 and was soon extended to a three-hour live weekly broadcast.
The program covered everything from HIV/AIDS rallies, Mardi Gras festivals and drama serials to the Australian Transsexual Association program, with a mix of music, talkback, news and event and group listing.
At a time when mainstream media rarely covered LGBT issues positively, and when LGBT print media was mostly published monthly, programs like Gaywaves were a vital news source for the Sydney LGBT community.
Unusually for community radio, significant holdings of Gaywaves are held by the NFSA, State Library of NSW and the Australian Queer Archives.
Sydney gay and lesbian radio program Gaywaves presenter Dietmar Hollman reports in November 1985 on proposed legislation (which would become the 1985 Public Health Proclaimed Diseases Amendment Act) that would require doctors to notify the New South Wales Health Department of HIV-positive patients, featuring interviews with activist John Cazan, Sydney City councillors Craig Johnston and Brian McGahen and New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board president Carmel Niland.
Sydney gay and lesbian radio program Gaywaves presenter Dietmar Hollman reports in October 1985 from a rally and AIDS Candlelight Vigil, the first held in Sydney, organised by Sydney City councillors Brian McGahen and Craig Johnston.
The recording includes discussion of the 1985 Public Health Proclaimed Diseases Amendment Act, speeches from Brian McGahen, Craig Johnston, Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Dennis Scott, a performance from July Glen and vox pops from the crowd.
Image from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (www.alga.org.au) badge collection
An interview with members of the Gay Liberation Quire broadcast as part of Gaywave's Stonewall Special in 1981. Featuring the quire's songs 'Hark the Herald Fairies Shout' and 'God Help You Merry Dykes and Poofs'. The quire had their debut performance, singing satirical versions of Christmas carols and other popular songs, at Belmore Park as 1000 people assembled for the Stonewall March on 27 June 1981.
Image of Neil Fitzgerald and Phil Stevenson at the launch of 'Hormones or Jeans', the Gay Liberation Quire EP, 1983. Photograph by Paul van Reyk from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (www.alga.org.au).
Notes by Beth Taylor
Doris Day's remarkable career is celebrated in this comprehensive report, originally produced by Maria Miranda for Gaywaves in 1987. This recording was sourced from a repeat broadcast, which aired on 5 August 1999 and was presented by Dietmar Hollman and Amanda Wallace.
Greg Reading reports for Gaywaves in 1983 from a march on Oxford Street, Sydney, organised as a response to a second police raid of sex-on-premises venue Club 80 in which eleven were charged with anti-homosexual laws.
A panel session presented by the NFSA during the 2015 SpringOUT festival. Panel members: Prue Borthwick and Greg Reading (2SER'S Gaywaves presenters), Peter Hewiston (past 2XX's Gaywavelength presenter), Nicola Hearn, Nida Mollison and Daria Sigma (2XX's current Friday Night Lip Service presenters). They are joined by the NFSA's Radio Archivist Chris Arneil, and moderated by Community Engagement Manager Cris Kennedy.
Gaywaves presenter and program producer, Dietmar Hollman, a member of the New South Wales Gay Rights Lobby during the gay law reform campaign in the early 1980s, pictured at the 2SER panel, circa 1987-1989.
Dietmar Hollman discusses the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) with American activist, film historian and author Vito Russo on Gaywaves in 1988.
Gaywaves float at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, 1994.