The Board and staff of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras express their sadness at the death of legendary 78er Ron Austin. Ron passed away on the morning of April 13 at the age of 90.
Ron was the originator of the idea to have a night time street party to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York. The street party, held on 24th June 1978, was a turning point in LGBTQI activism in Australia. Faced with brutal police violence, participants fought back as one in defiance. This defiance became a unifying force across the following months, as activists continued to take to the streets in protest against the growing number of arrests.
Ron was an active member of CAMP, the Gay Task Force and Pride History Group. Board member and 78er Robyn Kennedy worked alongside Ron on the CAMP Executive Committee during the 1970s. She said that “Ron was a person that lived his politics. As a strong supporter of feminism, he refused to comply with gender stereotypes. His courage in simply being himself in a time of widespread homophobia provided a role model for others, particularly the young people he worked with.”
Ron’s legacy is recognised in the Annual Mardi Gras Awards which include the Ron Austin Award for Most Fabulous Parade Entry.
A Memorial Service for Ron will be held on Wednesday April 24, 11.00am to 2.00pm at Camperdown Commons, 31 Mallett St, Camperdown.