NFSA Restores: Witches, Faggots, Dykes and Poofters

BY STEPHEN GROENEWEGEN

This year, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is celebrating its 40th anniversary, culminating in the annual parade and party on 3 March 2018.

The first Mardi Gras took place in very different circumstances. In 1978, homosexuality was a criminal offence in NSW and the march by gay rights activist on 24 June that year met strong police opposition and resulted in 53 marchers being arrested.

The latest documentary to be digitally restored by our NFSA Restores program is Witches, Faggots, Dykes and Poofters (One in Seven Collective, produced by Digby Duncan, 1980). It gives a near contemporary history of the events surrounding the first march by 'the 78ers' including the subsequent arrests:

The documentary gives context to the gay rights movement of the time through contemporary interviews with the 78ers and others fighting for equality. In this clip, a lesbian activist talks about how important it is to own terms of abuse like dykes and poofters and make them terms of pride instead:

NFSA Restores: Witches, Faggots, Dykes and Poofters screens at the 25th Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney on 27 February, at Brisbane Queer Film Festival on 11 March and at the NFSA's Arc cinema on 23 March.