LGBTQIA+ Collection at the NFSA
The NFSA is proud to support the LGBTQIA+ community.
Wherever you are located, the NFSA collection contains a wealth of LGBTQIA+ stories that you can explore online. Guest contributions include Simon Hunt writing about collaborating with Stephen Cummins on his seminal short films and their impact on queer cinema, while Di Minnis – one of the '78ers' from the first Mardi Gras parade in 1978 – reflects on what it was like to be part of the gay rights protests that followed the police arrests at the first Mardi Gras. Her article also contains rare news file footage of the gay rights protests and demonstrations from 1978.
On our site, you will find more stories and media about LGBTQIA+ Pioneers and Protests, as well as documentary Portraits of some remarkable people. Under New Storytellers, you can watch excerpts from recent online series and read a guest contribution from creator Julie Kalceff (Starting From Now, First Day). We look back at the heyday of 1990s Queer Cinema and even further back to the 1970s and 80s when TV taboos about LGBTQIA+ representation were being busted by series like Prisoner and Number 96. Plus there's a little More Mardi Gras to get you in a celebratory mood.
Read a contribution from guest writer Di Minnis, a co-chair of First Mardi Gras Inc., who recalls her involvement in the 'Drop the Charges' protest campaign of winter 1978 that helped change NSW legislation and paved the way for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras we have today.
Simon Hunt was a creative collaborator on the films of Stephen Cummins, remastered by the NFSA and the subject of a gala retrospective screening during Sydney WorldPride in February 2023. Read his guest article about Stephen's life, his films and their impact on queer cinema.
Pioneers and Protests
Gaywaves was Sydney’s first gay and lesbian radio program, going to air in November 1979 when homosexuality was a criminal offence in NSW.
Listen to contemporary and retrospective interviews, promos and reports from the program, which ran weekly on community radio station 2SER until 2005.
Plus: watch excerpts from the NFSA restoration of the documentary Witches and Faggots, Dykes and Poofters, about the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, read Di Minnis’ first-hand account of the 1978 lesbian and gay rights protests and discover the music of pioneering women’s bands like The Lavender Blues and Stray Dags.
Guest contributor Jacqui North writes about her film Chrissy (1999), which was the world’s first documentary to centre the story on a lesbian living with HIV.
Plus: watch William Yang in excerpts from Tony Ayres’ documentary Sadness (1999); see clips from an interview with Monica Hingston, a lesbian, former Catholic nun and George Pell’s cousin (2005); and watch excerpts from the coming-out story of cowboy and ‘quintessential boy from the bush’ Adam Sutton on Australian Story (1997).
Guest contributor Julie Kalceff reflects on creating Starting From Now, an award-winning online series featuring four lesbian protagonists and made with a skeleton crew on a shoestring budget.
Watch a clip from popular online series Sexy Herpes, set in a regional sexual health clinic.
Watch an excerpt from the short film Sparkles (2020) in which Sparkles (played by Tina Fielding), a woman with Down syndrome, runs away from her small country town and befriends Diamond (Gary Cooper), an outback drag queen.
Sydney drag queen Joyce Maynge delivered a musical 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' message from the roof of her Potts Point apartment during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020:
1990s queer cinema
The 1990s saw a notable increase in Australian LGBTQIA+ stories on the big screen. Head On (Ana Kokkinos, 1998) tells the story of a 19-year-old Greek Australian youth, Ari (Alex Dimitriades), who struggles with his sexual identity and his Greek heritage.
Plus: view our curated collection devoted to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) and watch clips from The Sum of Us (1994), Only the Brave (1994) and Love and Other Catastrophes (1996).
Did you know Heath Ledger played a gay cyclist, grappling with homophobia and coming out, in Sweat (1996), early in his career?
Plus: view our curated collection devoted to the women of Wentworth in the long-running soap Prisoner (1979-1986) and learn how Number 96 broke new ground in the 1970s for its representation of a gay couple and for featuring a trans character played by a trans performer, a first on Australian television.
More Mardi Gras
In 2019, Kylie delighted her fans when she made a surprise appearance at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Back in 2006, she talked to Molly Meldrum about being a gay icon.
Listen to an excerpt from JOY 94.9‘s podcast of an outside broadcast at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ 40th Anniversary parade.
Main image: Detail from the sequinned green dress worn by Hugo Weaving in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliott, 1994). NFSA title: 607048