Year in headlines: Melbourne
Tackling homophobia in sport, censorship and HIV testing – it was an eventful year for Melbourne’s LGBTI community. Michael Magnusson looks back at the year in headlines.
AFL players join Pride March and anti-homophobia cause
The push to tackle homophobia in sport received a major boost when Yarra Glen football club player Jason Ball came out last year and challenged the league to act against homophobia within the game.
Then in 2013 Ball was joined by Richmond and Carlton players Dan Jackson and Brock McLean along with Yarra Glen team mates in the annual Pride March.
McLean then spoke publicly in support of his lesbian sister and continues to advocate against homophobia and even for marriage equality.
“The more people we get talking about it, the more people we get speaking up in favour of accepting people for who they are and not discriminating, and particularly to the LGBTI community, and people can feel more comfortable and more accepted,” he told MCV.
Porn charge for Midsumma artist
Artist Paul Yore began 2013 as one of the major artists exhibiting during the Midsumma Festival.
Following his work being removed during a police raid at St Kilda’s Linden Gallery in June,
Yore was subsequently charged with possessing and producing child pornography.
Yore called the seizure of his work ‘homophobic”.
An exhibition at Melbourne’s Neon Parc gallery went without any controversy during September and it was hoped than another exhibition in Sydney would gather support for artist as he faced a court appearance.
That was not to be as organisers of the Sydney Contemporary 13 art expo altered and moved Yore’s work to a booth not easily seen by passers-by.
Meanwhile the Yore’s court case was postponed from November until January 10 next year.
VAC turns 30
On July 12 1983, a few days after the first death in Australia from AIDS, about 70 people gathered at The Laird Hotel for a meeting to discuss responses to the AIDS crisis affecting the community.
From that meeting the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre (VAC/GMHC) was born and, almost 30 years to the day hundreds of people crowded The Laird to mark the anniversary and witness the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
The honour fell to VAC/GMHC co-founder Jamie Gardiner, who was at that original meeting in 1983.
Recalling the public climate at the time, Gardiner said people lived in an atmosphere of fear, terror, discrimination and silence.
“We broke that silence here, thirty years ago,” he said.
Australia’s first ‘shop front’ rapid HIV testing site
Following the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s approval of a rapid HIV testing device in 2012, a rapid HIV testing site was introduced in Victoria in the form a ‘shop front’ setting.
The Australian-first testing site in Fitzroy, known as PRONTO, is run in partnership with the Burnet Institute and the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre.
With an estimated 30 per cent of gay men with HIV in Australia unaware of their positive status, rapid testing through a community-based service like PRONTO will help reduce the numbers of people with undiagnosed HIV. In the two months since opening at 175 Rose Street, Fitzroy, PRONTO saw close to 200 clients.
Haring Mural restored
One of the few remaining murals by internationally acclaimed artist Keith Haring was restored back to its original glory and now stands as a testament to the late artist and HIV awareness campaigner, who died in 1990 of AIDS-related complications.
Painted in March 1984 on the wall of the Collingwood Technical School, now the headquarters for Circus OZ, the mural is the only remaining public artwork created by Haring while in Australia.
The mural was badly deteriorated until a restoration plan was initiated in 2010 which saw Italian conservator Antonio Rava spend nearly six months working on the mural.
After unveiling the finished work in August Rava explained the intention was to bring back the message of the artist for all to see.
Sacking St Petersburg as sister city
In March LGBT rights activist Carl Katter launched a petition to end Melbourne’s sister city relationship with the Russian city of St Petersburg owing to that country’s newly passed ‘homosexual propaganda’. Following the petition with almost 9000 signatures being presented to the City of Melbourne, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle wrote to the St Petersburg Governor and met with the Russian ambassador to Australia to discuss the issue but stopped short of ending the relationship.
Now Greens Melbourne councillor has been joined by the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby in calling on the council to use its influence in the relationship to advocate for St Petersburg to revoke its anti-gay legislation or resolve to suspend the relationship until they are.
[Images] Rapid HIV testing at PRONTO! (top) and Italian conservator Antonio Rava at the Keith Haring Mural. Photos: Courtesy Burnet Institute; Supplied