Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras pays tribute to a true pioneer and fighter for equality who was there with his loving partner at the dawn of Mardi Gras in 1978.
Peter Bonsall-Boone (Bon) passed away on Friday after a battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with his beloved partner of 50 years Peter de Waal, and their many friends and loved ones.
Peter and Bon’s trailblazing campaigning and support for their community continued throughout decades of hard-won social change.
The couple met in Melbourne in 1966, and Bon said it was “love at first sight”. Homosexuality was against the law in those days, but despite the risks involved with speaking out publicly, they both felt it was vital they campaigned to make life better for other gay people. This led to their groundbreaking appearance together on the ABC’s Chequerboard program in 1972, which showed their shared life and even a brief kiss – all very controversial at the time.
Peter and Bon helped set up the first gay and lesbian helpline at their home, called ‘Phone-a-Friend’. They took part in the first Mardi Gras protest in 1978, which led to Bon being charged with a criminal offence after the police crackdown.
In recent years they have spoken out about marriage equality, sharing their love story and desire to exchange vows.
Peter and Bon celebrated 50 years together in October 2016. Below is their speech from anniversary celebration at Glebe Town Hall, attended by their family and many friends.
Peter Bonsall-Boone passed away peacefully on Friday morning. He will be greatly missed.
The entire Board, staff and team at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras express our gratitude to Bon and Peter for their brave and tireless work which has undoubtedly made life better for LGBTQI people who come after them. Our thoughts are with Peter de Waal and the couple’s loved ones.
Peter de Waal kindly requests no flowers be sent. Instead, consider a donation to the Exodus Foundation:
Bank: Westpac (Uniting Financial Services),
Account Name: The Exodus Foundation,
BSB: 634-634, A/C number: 100037634.
Bon’s life will be celebrated with a memorial service on a Saturday afternoon in Sydney soon.