Gay Tas History

Photo credit: PH30-1-4615 - Two men embrace on a bench at Fern Tree, Hobart, c.1890s. Unidentified.

We are keen to speak to everyone about their early life in Tasmania.

I'm a member of Oral History Tasmania and doing volunteer work for the only Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (celebrating their 40th year) at

Perhaps you can refer yourself and interested LGBTI persons to this project.

The prime objective
is to accumulate an oral history of the LGBTI community in Tasmania, beginning with the mid-20th century while the participants are alive and willing.

I have a number of reliable elderly residents who say they are willing to participate in recorded interviews, some openly, some anonymously.

I encourage every person to speak frankly about their individual life experiences; in consideration of known difficulties, opportunities and suppression. These previously unrecorded memories are valuable for the history  of Tasmania.

The interviews will be done on archive-quality digital recorders designed for the purpose and used extensively in other oral history work.

Written recollections and any other relevant material are also accepted for the project.

Interviews will hopefully include the ‘scene’ in Tasmania in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, which are the main gaps in all state and national archives.  Thus, I need to include persons born before 1960.

Copies of recordings will be lodged with interested archives including the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA).

What the money will be used for?
The funding will go towards the high cost of an oral history kit (e.g.: digital audio recorder, headphones and microphones) to ensure that the recordings are undertaken to appropriate archival standards; as well as a camera, to document interview subjects; and a  contribution towards statewide transport and accommodation.
My name is Robert Thompson, I am a retired  gay man now living very happily in Tasmania. I do want to see Tasmanian history recorded, preserved and accessible to current and future generations.

 My involvement with the gay community began some 40 years ago when I saw wonderful research being gathered in Sydney on our earliest colonial history.

Tasmanian LBGTI History Project:
This is an oral history project focused on recording older Tasmanian LGBTI people, a group who has only been recorded in a limited way. The focus on much Tasmanian and indeed broader Australian LGBTI history, has focused on activism post 1970, from the gay liberation period onwards, and in particular in Tasmania on decriminalisation and marriage equality. However, Tasmania’s LGBTI and in particular ‘camp’ history goes back much further - the bars and the beats, the private parties and social circles of the period up to the 1960’s will be a key focus on this project.  As we (and Austria!)
now have marriage equality, it is important to look to where we have come from, and that is a history much longer than the marriage equality movement.

To support the background research for the project, I am compiling information with the assistance of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

The Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives is the biggest repository of historical materials about LGBTI experience in Australia. The Archives was established in 1978. It is a volunteer, community-based organisation.

This very involving new project will bring a greater in-depth understanding of the now more widely-known and respected LGBTI Australian community.

I welcome enquiries, communications, especially from interviewees, donations, archival materials, early books and magazines.

Please refer to the 16 plus regular Updates herewith for news, history, happenings and progress...


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Robert Thompson 
Queens Domain TAS
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