Yesterday's Heroes: The Golden Age of Gay

Yesterday's Heroes: The Golden Age of Gay

Friday 25th February 2022

12:00 pm

Room 205

205 Oxford Street

Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Wheelchair Accessible

The 1969 Stonewall riot and the publication of Dennis Altman’s Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation in 1971 were harbingers of a golden age of gay that was to last until the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It gave rise to a gay aesthetic that challenged the heterosexual norm, celebrating the gay outsider status and difference. 

This exhibition celebrates many of the Sydney gay artists who contributed to this aesthetic, including: 

  • Radical drag troupe Sylvia and the Synthetics, whose new form of drag was outrageous, confronting and different. 

  • Mardi Gras artists David McDiarmid, Peter Tully and Doris Fish, whose fabulous costumes and satirical floats made the event an internationally known cultural phenomenon. 

  • Underground queer queen of soul Wendy Saddington, arguably the greatest blues singer that Australia has produced. 

  • Style Meister Simon Reptile, whose bizarre and beautiful style often anticipated coming fashion trends.  

  • Style icon Carmel Strelein, who although not herself gay pushed the punk outsider aesthetic to its uttermost limits. 

  • Master of the Grand Guignol Michael Matou, who brought his unique style of punk burlesque to his Sideshow Theatre Company. 

It is said that remembering and honouring the past strengthens the future. This project seeks to remember and celebrate these and the many other great artists whose pioneering work paved the way for the queer culture, and for the freedoms and acceptance that we all enjoy today. 

Open from 25 Feb – 5 March at Room 205.

Photo: Synthetic Diamonds by William Yang.