INTERVIEW: Garry Wotherspoon on Mardi Gras and the history of gay Sydney

March 5th 2016

Garry Wotherspoon


That day started out like any other, we had a march and a public meeting and then we thought “let’s finish the night with a bit of fun” so we  all met and Taylor Square and marched down Oxford Street. We had a truck with music playing… The police tried to impound the truck and force people to go away. Well they didn’t go away, they marched up College St and to the Cross and by that time the police were already at both ends of Darlinghurst Rd.

Garry Wotherspoon is one of a group of people known as the 78ers, who marched in the very first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras back in 1978. Many of them were arrested and suffered violence at the hands of police.

In the past few weeks, there have been official apologies for the conduct they faced. These came from NSW Parliament, from a representative of NSW Police force, and from the Sydney Morning Herald, who in 1978 published the full names, and occupations of those arrested. That outed many of them to friends, families and employers.

Garry is also the author of Gay Sydney: A History which tells the story of gay Sydney across a century, looking at secret, underground gay life, the never-ending debates about sex in society and the role of social movements in the ’60 and ’70s in effecting social change.




Oscar is Backchat‘s digital producer.

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