Community, Featured, Local History

Out of the Closets, Into the Streets: Celebrating the Spirited Rise of Melbourne’s Gay Liberation Movement

October 9, 2017

 

First appeared in Issue 4 of Inner Circle Magazine in print (June 2017). To request a free hard copy, please email: contact@innercirclemagazine.com.au.

There’s a free screening of the film as well as a panel discussion this evening (9th Oct) at Fitzroy Town Hall – you can register your interest here.

Interview conducted by Nathan Senn

Selected as one of 2017’s Top 100 Australian films at St. Kilda Film Festival, Out of the Closets, Into the Streets is a new short film that celebrates the spirited rise of Melbourne’s Gay Liberation Movement. Directed by Jary Nemo and produced by Lucinda Horrocks and Kathie Mayer, the film follows a group of Melbourne University students who in the early ‘70s took a stand for the rights of the city’s gay citizens. Taking a historical approach, the film is comprised of a combination of rich archival footage and compelling interviews from those present at the very inception of the grass-roots-movement. Eschewing nostalgia, the viewer is transported back to a time when homosexuality was widely repressed and openly criminalised and charts the journey of those who fought for equality. We recently sat down with Producer Lucinda Horrocks to discuss the making of the film, its impact and the history of the Gay Liberation Movement in the inner north.


Inner Circle: Hi Lucinda! Firstly, congratulations on such a great film. What inspired you to tell this particular story and how did the film come about?

Lucinda: Thank you! The idea for this project came from our partner producer Kathie Mayer. She is a long time fan of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and she kept on telling us there were amazing stories hidden in the archives. When we were invited by Culture Victoria to pitch project ideas we thought we would create a story around an exhibition ALGA had already put on about the 1970s Gay Liberation Movement in Melbourne.

IC: The Gay Liberation Movement was based largely out of Parkville/Carlton. Melbourne University and student activism seems to play a big role in the movement. How do you perceive the changes in student activism today?

Lucinda: The 1970s were a radical and shifting time for politics, and student politics played a big role in that. We are talking the era where higher education was suddenly free, the baby boomers were coming of age, and students were going to university from families, which up to that point had never finished high school. Many of those students became significant leaders and change-makers and lots of them began their activism at university like so many of the Melbourne Gay Liberation Front members did.

IC: From a modern day perspective – the idea of abjuring notions of equality for more radical change, as address in the film, seems particularly revolutionary. How do you see that the Gay activist movement in Melbourne has changed since the film was made?

Lucinda: I think generally today as a society there is an orthodox way of thinking about how a good society progresses, which is more conservative than how radical activists saw it in the 1970s. So, yes, it is a shock to hear activist voices from that era. They didn’t want equality, because to them that simply reinforced the status quo. They wanted to shake up the very foundations of society.

  “I owe a strong debt to the Gay Liberation activists of that period… I think they did change the world.”

IC: Likewise, given the stated, ideological influence of feminism on the movement, what are your views on contemporary feminism and its relationship to rebellion? Do you feel that same revolutionary spirit still alive today?

Lucinda: I’m a child of the 1970s and a daughter of a feminist who marched and protested and fought hard for rights I enjoy today. I’ve always felt I owe a strong debt to my mother and those women of the 1970s. After producing this film I realise I owe a strong debt to the Gay Liberation activists of that period also, because they fought hard for respect of difference and I think they did change the world. Where to with contemporary feminism? I’ve seen a strengthening of feminist voices in the past few years.  I think feminism remains a force to be reckoned with.

IC: I found Andrew’s message in the film around the importance of participation to be particularly inspiring. What is it that you hope your audience will take from the film?

Lucinda: I’m pleased you say that because we all felt that Andrew’s statement was extraordinary. I would like the audience thinks about how difficult and discriminatory our society was even 45 short years ago, and how hard people had to fight to change things. Andrew’s statement is like a call to action, a reminder that you have to be part of the change you want to see, which is as relevant today as it was in the 1970s.

IC: I believe as filmmakers, you and Jary have a rich history with the Inner North?

Lucinda: Jary and I lived in Flemington for several years in the late 90s/early 00’s. I remember Jary used to work in Clifton Hill and he would ride his bike from Flemington through Royal Park past the zoo along the old Inner Circle Line rail track. I have very fond memories of those days. I think Kathie lived in Carlton in her student days. We started Wind & Sky Productions 9 years ago and have produced over 20 short films. I worked as a researcher on a project about David Scott, who was a pioneer in social justice in the 1960s and 70s. He founded Community Aid Abroad and was director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, which has deep roots in Fitzroy.

IC: And what are you currently working on and what should we keep our eyes out for in the future?

Lucinda: I love making documentaries. I learn so much about the complex realities of the world we live in. We are working on two great stories at the moment, one about the Chinese on the early goldfields of Victoria and another about Data Democracy.

With the support of Culture Victoria, Out of the Closets, Into the Streets and its associated archival materials cab be viewed in full, online at: http://cv.vic.gov.au/stories/a-diverse-state/out-of-the-closets-into-the-streets/

Feature Photography Credit: Gay Pride Week, Melbourne, 1973. Photograph by Frank Prain. ©Frank Prain 1973. Courtesy of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

 

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