In 2018, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrated its 40th anniversary, culminating in the annual parade and party on 3 March.
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.
Now digitally restored by our NFSA Restores program is the documentary Witches and 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:
In 2018, NFSA Restores: Witches and Faggots, Dykes and Poofters screened at the 25th Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney, Brisbane's Queer Film Festival and at the NFSA's Arc cinema in Canberra.
This article was first published in 2018. Some details were updated in 2023.