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Out Here: Gay and Lesbian Perspectives VI

Chapter 6

HIV/AIDS and Gay Community Print News Media in 1980s Australia

Shirleene Robinson

This chapter analyses the way that Australian gay print news media dealt with HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. It finds that the commercial gay press in Australia was the most effective in the western world in informing a vulnerable community about a major public health epidemic, consistently providing medical information in a non-judgemental way.1 Australian gay journalists had keenly followed trends in the gay and lesbian liberation movement in America and became aware of HIV/AIDS comparatively early. State AIDS Councils – which featured a number of gay journalists in prominent roles – lobbied federal and state governments for funding and portions of this revenue were used to fund safe sex advertisements in the gay press. This advertising revenue meant that gay periodicals in this country, unlike a number of gay periodicals in America, were not indebted to Sex On Premises Venues (SOPVs) which had a vested interest in promoting casual sex and downplaying the risks of HIV transmission. Furthermore, in states such as Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, where the commercial gay press was not always readily available, AIDS Councils produced increasingly sophisticated newsletters which informed and educated the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Community print media – both commercial and non-commercial – was a central component of Australia’s successful response to HIV/AIDS.

The successful Australian public policy response to HIV/AIDS has been adeptly explored by a number of authors. Paul Sendziuk’s excellent study, Learning to Trust is the most detailed exploration of the management of HIV/AIDS in an Australian context.2 A number of authors have also explored the way that the mainstream media constructed HIV/AIDS. Deborah Lupton’s Moral Threats and Dangerous Desire provides a particularly detailed analysis of HIV/AIDS reporting in the mainstream press,3 and while Graham Willett has pointed out that the gay and lesbian press played a vital role in providing the homosexual community with information about HIV/AIDS, it is a topic that has received scant consideration. The treatment of HIV/AIDS in the gay press has received even less attention, with one short article written from a personal perspective and published in the National AIDS Bulletin remaining the major piece of work in this field.4 This lacuna is not surprising as the role of the gay press in Australia more generally has also been an underexplored topic.5

The Emergence of the Gay Press

The earliest gay and lesbian newspapers in Australia were created in the southern states of New South Wales and Victoria. From 1971, the gay liberation group CAMP published a regular newsletter in Sydney under the banner of Camp Ink. This newsletter, with its focus on the developing gay rights movement and issues of interest to the LGBT community, marks an important turning point. Technically though, the first commercial gay magazine to be produced in Australia was William and John. This magazine was produced in Sydney from 1971 to 1972.6 In 1975, Campaign magazine was launched and continued publishing until 2000. In 1979, Melbourne’s first gay magazine, Gay Community News, began production. In 1983, Gay Community News was replaced by OutRage, which was published for seventeen years until 2000.

The Sydney Star, which began life in 1979 as a free gay newspaper, and was later renamed the Sydney Star Observer, inspired the later release of similar free queer newspapers across Australia. The Sydney Star Observer remains one of the most successful LGBT periodicals to have been produced in Australia. Magazines targeted specifically at a lesbian audience were produced from the late 1980s onwards with varying degrees of success.7

HIV/AIDS and the Gay Press

The first newspaper article on HIV/AIDS in America was published in the gay newspaper, the New York Native, on 18 May 1981. This article, which measured just under 18 centimeters, was written by Dr Lawrence Mass, and reported that claims of a new ‘gay cancer’ were largely unfounded.8 This report preceded the first mainstream coverage on the new disease, which was published by the Los Angeles Times on 5 June 1981.9

Throughout the 1980s, the New York Native continued to provide some of the most comprehensive coverage of HIV/AIDS in the United States. While the newspaper lost many readers in later years by embracing controversial conspiracy theories denying a link between HIV and AIDS, its early coverage was informative and important. The Washington Blade newspaper has also been commended by historians for its responsible reporting of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s.10 Roger Streitmatter has criticised other gay newspapers such as the San Francisco Sentinel and Bay Area Reporter for not providing better information about safe sexual practices and bathhouses because they feared the loss of advertising revenue from these venues.11 Randy Shilts, who reported for the mainstream newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, has stated that:

San Francisco’s newspapers had what every journalistic institution prays for: the opportunity to save lives. It was the one time in history when the gay press could have proven its mettle once and for all. But it performed miserably. The newspapers in the most important gay city in the country sold out to the almighty buck. The men who made that decision will, unquestionably, burn in hell.12

Streitmatter has also assessed as inadequate the Advocate’s reporting of the crisis.13

The mainstream American press has also been criticised for its lack of coverage of HIV/AIDS in the epidemic’s early stages and its biased coverage as the 1980s progressed. Roger Myrick has adapted a framework first espoused by Jeffrey Weeks to understand mainstream media representations of HIV/AIDS in the United States during the 1980s. He argues that three main periods may be discerned. During the first period, from 1981–1982, representations focused on anxiety about the affected, the early medical definition and control of AIDS, and an indifferent governmental response. The second period, from 1982–1985, was characterised by a moral panic about the ‘gay plague’ and the marginalisation of People Living With AIDS (PLWA). From 1985 onwards (the third period), the American government began a preventative campaign which led to more professional educational campaigns.14 The death of actor Rock Hudson in October 1985 from AIDS-related causes has been credited with a 270% increase in AIDS stories in American newspapers in that year and motivating the new policy direction of the American government.15

Although many of America’s gay periodicals were remiss in their coverage of the epidemic, Dennis Altman has argued that the gay press in a number of other countries played a particularly important role during the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He states that they provided ‘much of the available early information on the epidemic, as well as acting as a vital tool in mobilising the community’.16 Altman singles out the Australian publication, OutRage, the Canadian publication, Body Politic and the French publication, Le Gai Pied, as seeming ‘to provide the best explanations for non-specialists of what was painstakingly being reported in the medical press’.17

On 3 July 1981, the Star newspaper in Sydney became the first newspaper in Australia to mention that gay men in America were suffering from a mysterious new condition.18 Under the heading ‘New Pneumonia Linked to Gay Lifestyle’, the newspaper wrote a brief article about five young men in Atlanta, Georgia, who had pneumonia ‘which may be linked to some aspect of homosexual lifestyle’.19 As 1981 continued, other gay publications such as Campaign and Klick! also included minor stories about HIV/AIDS-related conditions such as Karposi’s sarcoma.20

Gay Community News was the first Australian gay periodical to devote significant space to HIV/AIDS. In February 1982, the magazine published an article with the headline ‘Will We all Die of “Gay Cancer”’? The reference to ‘gay cancer’ showed just how closely Australian gay journalists were following the language used in the United States. The Gay Community News article noted that ‘major journals throughout the west have begun reporting what could become known as “gay diseases”’ and that ‘physicians and gay activists are encouraging homosexuals to practice better hygiene, reduce their sexual contacts and get the names of those they do have sex with’.21 This information reflected the most up-to-date medical information on transmission that was available at the time. In April 1982, Gay Community News carried a further article, by Dr Simon Quest, which was ‘about the smattering of news reports about Karposi’s sarcoma [which were] appearing in large American and European cities where there [was] a strong gay population’.22 There were some minor mentions of a potential epidemic in subsequent journal issues and in November 1982, Gay Community News published the first major in-depth investigative report on HIV/AIDS in Australia. In a five-page article entitled ‘Putting Paid to the “Gay Plague”’, journalist Gary Jaynes outlined what was known about the new virus.23

The informed early reportage of HIV/AIDS in the gay press in Australia contrasted with the lack of attention the syndrome received in the United States. This can be explained through the more independent nature of the Australian press. As the vast majority of the Australian gay press was not owned by SOPV proprietors, there were no conflicts on reporting on a medical condition many were starting to believe was sexually transmitted. In January 1983, Michael Glynn, the Managing Editor of the Sydney Star newspaper, wrote an editorial outlining the independence of that newspaper:

When I started the Sydney Star more than three years ago I was trying to do my bit to make this city better for the gay community in terms of a developing awareness. The Star has remained an independent newspaper, not tied to any particular group or business, which enables it to pursue an editorial policy based on integrity and hopefully the good of the community.24

A perusal of the advertising in the Star in 1982 reveals that the newspaper did manage to attract a diverse selection of business marketing. While SOPVs such as the 253 Club Baths were featured in the newspaper, other companies, such as the Town Hall Hotel, Antonio’s Pizza and Restaurant, Astill and Associates Insurance, the Belmore Park Hotel, Numbers Theatre, Stumps Restaurant, the Criterion Hotel, Universal Travel and the Honest Irishman Hotel also took out paid advertisements.25 Thus, the newspaper could accurately claim to not be indebted to any one type of industry or business.

At the start of 1983, the collective which had published Gay Community News, launched its new publication, OutRage. Again, this publication was not indebted to larger business interests or any single type of advertiser. Adam Carr, who was appointed assistant editor of the new publication, rapidly became the journalist who wrote the most about HIV/AIDS for a gay audience in the 1980s. Carr remembers that he was galvanised into action by the ‘first authentic and undeniable case of AIDS in Australia’, involving a Melbourne gay man, who was known to some of the staff of OutRage.26 Carr recalls that this case saw OutRage commit to covering ‘this AIDS business’ and that he ‘trotted off to the Melbourne Uni medical library and photocopied everything they had on AIDS: a pile of journal articles about half an inch thick’.27 Carr’s first substantial article on HIV/AIDS was published in the June 1983 edition of OutRage. This edition of OutRage featured the cover heading ‘The AIDS Epidemic: What the Straight Press Won’t Tell You’.

Carr, who was also one of the founding members of the Victorian AIDS Action Committee in 1983, continued to provide gay and lesbian readers with frank, open information about HIV/AIDS transmission. Carr’s substantial role in informing the homosexual community about the virus cannot be overstated. Bill Rutkin, the President of the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) in the 1980s, recalls that Carr appeared to know more about HIV/AIDS than most doctors in this era.28 Carr also spoke out against homophobic reporting about HIV/AIDS in the mainstream press. He wrote that:

The Australian media’s treatment of AIDS’ arrival here has been predictable. Most of the press have been free with discredited phrases like ‘the gay plague’ and the Bulletin [has] excelled itself with a homophobic coverage and offensively irrelevant choice of photograph.29

There were a number of homophobic reports about HIV/AIDS from the very start of the epidemic. In November 1982, in the first major piece written about HIV/AIDS in the gay press, Gary Jaynes admonished the mainstream press for ‘referring to the “gay plague” in their headlines, a term that is as mischievous as it is inaccurate’.30 When coverage was not overtly homophobic, it could also be sensationalist and unhelpful. In June 1983, the Medical Journal of Australia caused public panic when it printed a cover story on HIV/AIDS, calling it ‘The Black Plague of the Eighties’ and illustrating the title with grim press headlines and images of death.31

By the middle of 1983, the gay press in its entirety was devoting considerable attention to HIV/AIDS. Just as Carr had done, many other journalists suggested readers exercise caution when obtaining information about HIV/AIDS from the mainstream press. On this note, in July 1983, the Sydney Star newspaper urged its readers to not ‘believe everything you read in the non-gay press. Since when have they had our interest, safety and care at heart’.32

As it grew, the LGBT press in Australia also provided a forum to highlight problematic coverage of the AIDS crisis by the mainstream media. Lupton, who has studied the mainstream coverage of HIV/AIDS in detail, has found that there were some consistent themes. First, HIV/AIDS received limited coverage while it appeared to impact predominantly on the gay male community. Second, contradictory, confusing and panic-driven coverage was common. Third, prominent people were able to influence HIV/AIDS coverage. Fourth, HIV/AIDS coverage had been personalised.33 Lupton notes that the mainstream Australian press included homophobic and xenophobic themes in its coverage, along with imagery of invasion, fear and contamination.34

Out of all of Australia’s gay periodicals, it was OutRage in particular that covered the growing epidemic in detail. Campaign magazine also devoted increased space to HIV/AIDS from 1983 onwards. Its coverage and reach did not match that provided by OutRage though. Campaign did provide direct information about safe sexual practices early though, telling its readers in a June 1983 article that ‘the message is clear: avoid the direct exchange of bodily fluids’.35

Adam Carr has asserted that the AIDS epidemic prevented OutRage from becoming just another commercial advertising avenue selling sex and ‘commercial goodies’. He states:

AIDS gave the magazine a serious agenda to replace the rather stodgy diet of gay liberationist politics it had lived on before 1984. It also created a new market, since many gay men suddenly wanted a forum in which they could read and write about this new and sinister development. The fight against AIDS was the gay male community’s great project of the 1980s, and helped forge a new community consciousness of which the gay press was both an agent and a beneficiary.36

There were strong links between the Victorian AIDS Council and OutRage magazine. The first Committee of the Victorian AIDS Council, which was elected in 1985, included three prominent gay journalists who were involved with OutRage: Adam Carr, Jamie Gardiner and Danny Vadasz.37 Chris Carter, another member of the original Committee, went on to become the first editor of the Melbourne Voice and the Melbourne Star Observer.38

The advertising for safe sex campaigns provided a significant amount of funding to Australia’s gay press in the 1980s. As Larry Galbraith, former editor of the Sydney Star Observer, remembers:

In 1985, AIDS Councils began another relationship with the gay press: that of advertising client. As AIDS education became more sophisticated, campaigns were – and are – developed which had gay press advertising as an integral feature.39

Carr has also stated that ‘more than incidentally, the creation of government-funded AIDS Councils and education campaigns greatly helped [OutRage] magazine’s finances’. This was also true for the New South Wales publication, the Sydney Star Observer, which was able to publish its first full colour glossy cover in May 1986 as part of a campaign with the AIDS Council of New South Wales.

The Grim Reaper Campaign of 1987, which was coordinated by the federal government-funded National Advisory Committee on AIDS (NACAIDS), showed how ‘mainstream’ HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns had become by this year. This television commercial, which first screened on 5 April 1987, showed a Grim Reaper bowling and knocking over a diverse range of Australians. The camera then panned out to show many more Grim Reapers bowling down other Australians in other ghoulish bowling lanes. While many of individuals who worked at AIDS Councils debated the overall effectiveness of the Grim Reaper campaign, it did cause many Australians to seek out further information on HIV/AIDS from these Councils. The campaign also saw an escalation in the amount of news print that was devoted to HIV/AIDS. State AIDS Councils and gay publications were able to mediate the more homophobic comments and articles that appeared.

Publications by AIDS Councils

AIDS Councils in all Australian states and territories produced newsletters from their formation onwards. While the easy accessibility of a gay press meant that the Victorian AIDS Council newsletter never had to reach the audience that newsletters in states such as Queensland and Western Australia needed to, it still informed its readers that it would provide ‘the truth behind the headlines’ and an ‘in-depth review of the Australian and overseas gay and medical press news and opinions on AIDS’.40 The Victorian AIDS Council saw its newsletter as providing ‘a regular, credible and widely distributed source of accurate information on AIDS and the battles we face’. Phil Carswell, the editor of the newsletter wrote that ‘obviously in depth articles continue to be necessary and these will appear in the gay press’.41 Indeed, the Victorian AIDS Council contracted its media work to Gay Publications Cooperative, the collective responsible for producing OutRage since 1985.42

In states where male-to-male sexual acts were not decriminalised and where it was not always possible to obtain copies of commercial gay publications, material produced by AIDS Councils played a vital role in mediating the homophobia of the mainstream press and informing the LGBT community about HIV/AIDS. There was often no professionally produced gay media available. The Western Australian AIDS Council, which formed in 1983 and the Queensland and Tasmanian AIDS Councils, which both formed in 1985, all produced their own printed media which informed a marginalised community about HIV/AIDS.

The first edition of AIDS ACTION, the newsletter of the Western Australian AIDS Council, was produced by five individuals with the rest of the Council involved in the distribution of the newsletter. It was four pages in length and featured information about fundraising, a support group for people living with HIV/AIDS and medical research updates about HIV/AIDS.43 Subsequent editions provided open information about condom usage, antibody testing and the importance of safe sex.44 State and federal funding did assist the Western Australian AIDS Council with its publishing agenda and by May 1988, the newsletter included social photographs and improved production values.45 The Western Australian AIDS Council also maintained an extensive collection of clippings from national and international publications, both gay and non-gay. In 1990, AIDS ACTION affirmed that one of its major roles was in drawing attention to the homophobia of the mainstream media’s reporting of HIV/AIDS. Michael Christian wrote:

when reading the various tabloids, one tends to feel it is a rare day indeed when a balanced view of the issues is presented. It is unlikely anyone would contradict a statement saying that anti-gay sentiments are given far more media space than pro-gay sentiments.46

The Tasmanian AIDS Council’s newsletter, which was published from 1986 onwards, also reproduced articles from gay newspapers, including the Sydney Star Observer, as well as homophobic articles from the mainstream media. By doing so, the Council created a sense of community, while also drawing attention to the prejudices surrounding HIV/AIDS. The newsletter also included features on regional events, support for volunteers and information about medical and social developments pertaining to HIV/AIDS.

The Queensland publication, Duck News, which was produced in a particularly difficult political climate, was one of the most professional of all publications and served as a substitute gay publication in a state governed by the conservative and reactionary Bjelke-Petersen government.47 Queensland had no homosexual press and the periodicals that provided a voice for gay people in southern states were banned from public sale in the state.48 These difficulties were compounded by the active use of homophobia as a political tool by conservative ministers. Historian Clive Moore points out that while Queensland’s gay and lesbian culture is ‘quintessentially Australian’, the ‘gerrymandered, rural/reactionary rule of the National/Liberal and National Party government’ during the Bjelke-Petersen era meant that mainstream Queensland was slower to embrace homosexual reform than other states.49

Duck News, which was published from 1985 to 1991, was produced in an A4 format with its initial length only two pages. By the next year, it was averaging at least 10 pages per edition. It was distributed freely in bars and gay venues and via the offices of QuAC. It was also possible to subscribe to the publication. Duck News assumed particular importance in Queensland, not only as a result of Bjelke-Petersen’s government neglecting to inform gay men about safe sexual practices, but also because other homosexual media was not freely available to members of the broader gay community in the state.50

The volunteers involved in producing Duck News subscribed to international gay publications and reproduced relevant medical information for Queensland readers. In 1988, committee member Dr Malcolm McCamish noted that during the early 1980s, the gay magazine, the New York Native, had been ‘the major source of medical information on AIDS and physicians treating patients would subscribe to it rather than to the more established journals for the most up-to-date information’. McCamish recognised the role that gay community printed media could play in informing this community about safer sex practices in a way they would understand. McCamish himself was an academic chemist, employed at the University of Queensland, and served as a scientific consultant for Duck News.51

Although some Queenslanders would have also subscribed to national periodicals such as OutRage, QuAC’s publication, Duck News, probably reached more gay and lesbian individuals in that state. Until 1987, Duck News was produced by volunteer Cory Prickett, who was aged around 16 years at the time and had access to a printing press through a family connection. Prickett, along with his team of other young volunteers ‘initiated’ the magazine and ‘devoted countless hours to its production’, as well as assisting in welfare-related activities. Duck News informed both QuAC workers and the broader community about safe sex, community events and many other pieces of important information. By March 1986, due to its popularity, members of the organisation increased the numbers of copies of Duck News being produced from 500 to 680 per month.52 It is also likely that many more copies than the number produced were read, as Duck News was distributed in venues such as gay bars, where issues would have been read by multiple people. QuAC also agreed to lodge copies of the publication in the National Library, as they believed this would help QuAC to receive more recognition.53 In October 1987, the national gay periodical OutRage referred to Duck News as ‘the most interesting and informative AIDS Council newsletter in the country’.54 Certainly, until the decriminalisation of male-to-male homosexuality in Queensland in 1990, Duck News played a unique and crucial role in HIV/AIDS education and prevention.

The arrival of HIV/AIDS significantly exacerbated the homophobic rhetoric that was espoused by members of the Bjelke-Petersen government.55 In July 1984, the media reported that 30 recipients had received blood contaminated with the HIV virus. This was modified the next day to 26. The reporting of this event was not handled with any degree of sensitivity. Fears of an AIDS epidemic, however, increased significantly in November. In this month, Brian Austin, the Minister for Health, announced that three babies had died after they received transfusions of blood contaminated with HIV/AIDS. The blood had been donated by a 27-year-old homosexual Brisbane man. The Courier-Mail and Daily Sun both devoted their front page to comments from the father of one of the dead babies. The father of the baby not only referred to homosexuality as ‘this degenerate trend’ but also urged the donor of the contaminated blood to commit suicide.56

In August 1984, when concern over contaminated blood was mounting, Bjelke-Petersen described homosexual people as ‘insulting evil animals who should go back to New South Wales and Victoria where they came from in the first place’.57 Bjelke-Petersen also took the opportunity to declare that the New South Wales Labor Premier, Neville Wran, ‘should hang his head in shame for legalising homosexuality in New South Wales’.58

The arrival of HIV/AIDS in Queensland caused considerable public fear. The legislative response of the Bjelke-Petersen government appears highly reactionary. It quickly introduced amendments to the Transplantation and Anatomy Act, allowing for a $10,000 penalty or two years’ imprisonment for those who knowingly gave false information in respect of body tissue used for transplant or transfusion. The introduction of this legislation helped to convey the impression that homosexual blood donors might have knowingly donated infected blood.

When introducing the amendments, Austin continued with the rhetoric that had been expressed by Bjelke-Petersen, associating the Labor Party with homosexuality and HIV/AIDS with both. Austin stated that the children who had died as a result of receiving contaminated blood:

appear to be the innocent victims of the permissive society Australia is becoming. It distresses the Queensland government to see how some other states and Canberra support legalised homosexuality.59

The conflation between HIV/AIDS and homosexuality was part of conservative political discourse in the 1980s but it was particularly marked in Queensland.

As the HIV/AIDS crisis continued, the Bjelke-Petersen government steadfastly refused to open discussions with the activists involved in promoting safe-sex campaigns. Bjelke-Petersen also refused to allow condom machines to be installed in public facilities and did not allow for non-judgemental discussions of safe sex or indeed any sexual education in Queensland schools. While other states set up testing and treatment facilities and funded AIDS Action Councils, the Queensland state government refused to fund such facilities.60

Despite a lack of support from the Queensland government, QuAC pushed ahead with its educational aims from the outset. This was particularly important because, as Roger Myrick has pointed out, gay community organisations have a proven track record of effectively being able to convey safe sex messages within their community.61 Carr has also argued that campaigns within the gay community were a major factor in Australia managing to successfully contain the epidemic.62 By mid-December 1984, QuAC had designed cards explaining safe and unsafe sex practices and these were being distributed in beats and bars. In July 1985, the Council rented a house and had a telephone connected so that concerned individuals would easily be able to access support. Later, in 1987, during the Grim Reaper advertising campaign era, this phone-line operated 24 hours a day, responding to increasing mainstream community concerns about the epidemic.63 The first advertising campaign that was mounted by QuAC in August 1985 saw 30 Brisbane City Council buses carrying large side-panel advertisements with the contact telephone number for the AIDS Council.64

This contrasts heavily with the educational stance adopted by the Bjelke-Petersen government during this era. As Paul Sendziuk points out, throughout 1985 the Queensland Department of Health provided two pieces of material about HIV/AIDS. One had been compiled by David Pennington’s Task Force and was entitled AIDS: The Facts. The other was a booklet entitled AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: Information for Physicians.65 No material had been designed to target the male homosexual community, nor were condoms suggested as a preventative measure. Furthermore, material about HIV/AIDS was not promoted or highly visible, leading Bill Rutkin to note that you ‘have to know about it before you ask about it’.66


By the 1990s, new combination therapies greatly extended the life expectancies of many people living with HIV/AIDS. While AIDS Councils still exist in all Australian states and territories, their role has shifted slightly to encompass broader LGBT health. In tandem with this, as Adam Carr has pointed out with some irony, the publicity surrounding HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and the growth of AIDS Councils, Mardi Gras and commercial elements and the expense of activist organisations actually served to hasten the ‘mainstreaming’ of gay life. He states:

The gay commercial sector throve and prospered. Gay men and lesbians became increasingly prominent and increasingly open in the arts and public life generally. What used to be called the ‘gay ghetto’ was disappearing, and the role of what had begun as a ‘ghetto press’ was in question.67

The rapid growth of the internet also significantly altered the way members of the LGBT community communicated and shared information. In 2000, as a reaction to these changes and a depleted readership, both of Australia’s main gay magazines, Campaign and OutRage, ceased publication. Free and regional LGBT newspapers are still published across the country.

Australia’s response to HIV/AIDS is widely regarded as one of the most effective in the western world. The Australian Federal Government has rightfully received acknowledgement for empowering and working in conjunction with marginalised communities to contain the epidemic. The role of the LGBT community in promoting safe sex strategies, devising educational campaigns and developing a strong and active press that allowed for the provision of vital information, support and a platform to refute homophobia was also crucial to the management of this epidemic. Printed gay news media was central to Australia’s successful management of HIV/AIDS.

Endnotes - Chapter 6

1 Roger Streitmatter, Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay and Lesbian Press in America, Boston: Faber and Faber, 1995, p. 245.

2 Paul Sendziuk, Learning to Trust: Australian Responses to AIDS, Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2004.

3 Deborah Lupton, Moral Threats and Dangerous Desires: AIDS in the News Media, London: Taylor and Francis, 1994.

4 L. Galbraith, ‘AIDS: How the Gay Press Told the Story’, National AIDS Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 6 (1992), pp. 18–21.

5 See, Shirleene Robinson, ‘On the Frontline: The Queer Press and the Fight Against Homophobia’ in Shirleene Robinson, ed., Homophobia: An Australian History, Annandale, NSW: The Federation Press, 2008, pp. 193–217; Martyn Goddard, ‘The Whole Truth: Limits on Gay and Lesbian Journalism’, in Garry Wotherspoon, ed., Gay and Lesbian Perspectives III, Sydney: Department of Economic History, University of Sydney, 1996, pp. 1–16; Anne Scahill, ‘Queer(ed) Media’, in Craig Johnston and Paul van Reyk, eds, Queer City: Gay and Lesbian Politics in Sydney, Sydney: Pluto Press, 2001, pp. 179–192; Rob Cover, ‘Engaging Sexualities: Lesbian/Gay Print Journalism, Community, Belonging, Social Space and Physical Place’, Pacific Journalism Review, vol. 11, no. 1 (April 2005), pp. 113–132; and, Shirleene Robinson, ‘Queensland’s Queer Press’, in Yorick Smaal and Belinda McKay, eds, Queer Queensland, Special Edition, Queensland Review, vol. 14, no. 2 (2007), pp. 59–78.

6 Garry Wotherspoon, ‘City of the Plain’: History of a Gay Sub-culture, Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1991, p. 175.

7 Dennis Altman, ‘Homosexuality’, in Richard Nile, ed., Australian Civilisation, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 114.

8 Larry P. Gross, Up from Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men and the Media in America, New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

9 ibid.

10 Streitmatter, Unspeakable, p. 243.

11 ibid., p. 245.

12 ibid.

13 ibid.

14 Roger Myrick, AIDS, Communication and Empowerment: Gay Male Identity and the Politics of Public Health Messages, New York: Harrington Park Press, 1996, p. 43.

15 Edward Alwood, Straight News: Gays, Lesbians and the News Media, New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, p. 234.

16 Dennis Altman, Power and Community: Organizational and Cultural Responses to AIDS, London: Taylor and Francis, 1994, p. 21.

17 ibid.

18 O’Donnell, ‘Star Wars: Patterns of Change in Community Journalism at the Sydney Star Observer’, p. 148.

19 Galbraith, ‘AIDS: How the Gay Press Told the Story’, p. 18.

20 ibid.

21 Gay Community News, ibid., vol. 4, no. 1 (February 1982), p. 5.

22 ibid., vol. 4, no. 3 (April 1982), p. 39.

23 ibid., vol. 4, no. 9 (November 1982), pp. 17–19, 24–25.

24 Sydney Star, 3 July 1981, p. 2.

25 See, for example, Sydney Star, vol. 4, no. 4 (10 September 1982).

26 Adam Carr, ‘When We Were Very Young: The Early Years of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Victoria’, National AIDS Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 6 (July 1992), p. 15.

27 ibid.

28 William Rutkin, interview with Shirleene Robinson, Brisbane, 5 February 2010.

29 OutRage, no. 3 (June 1983), p. 3.

30 Gay Community News, vol. 4, no. 9 (November 1982), pp. 17–19, 24–25.

31 Medical Journal of Australia, 11 June 1983.

32 Sydney Star, vol. 4, no. 24 (1 July 1983), p. 4.

33 Lupton, Moral Threats and Dangerous Desires, p. 21.

34 ibid.

35 Campaign, vol. 4, no. 22 (3 June 1983), pp. 7–8.

36 ‘OutRage at 15 or the Rise and Fall of Practically Everyone’, Adam Carr website, available at,, date accessed 16 July 2010.

37 Adam Carr, A Dangerous Decade: Ten Years of the Victorian AIDS Council 1983–1993, Melbourne: Victorian AIDS Council, 1993, p. 5.

38 Carr, ‘When We Were Very Young’, p. 17.

39 Galbraith, ‘AIDS: How the Gay Press Told the Story’, p. 21.

40 Victorian AIDS Action Committee News, no. 2 (March 1984), p. 4.

41 AIDS ACTION: A Newsletter from the Victorian AIDS Council (15 February 1985), p. 1.

42 ibid., no. 4 (June 1985), p. 1.

43 AIDS ACTION: Western Australian AIDS Council Newsletter, no. 1 (August 1985), p. 1.

44 ibid., no. 5 (December 1985 – January 1986), p. 3.

45 ibid., no. 18 (May 1988), pp. 11–12.

46 ibid., no. 25 (September 1990), p. 11.

47 Shirleene Robinson, ‘Responding to Homophobia: HIV/AIDS, Homosexual Community Formation and Identity in Queensland, 1983–1990’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 41, no. 2 (2010), pp. 181–197.

48 Robinson, ‘Queensland’s Queer Press’, pp. 59–78.

49 Clive Moore, Sunshine and Rainbows: The Development of Gay and Lesbian Culture in Queensland, St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2001, p. 213.

50 Robinson, ‘Queensland’s Queer Press’, pp. 59–78.

51 Duck News, August 1987, p. 20.

52 Minutes of the Queensland AIDS Committee Meeting Held on 4 February 1986, Malcolm McCamish Collection, Fryer Library, University of Queensland, UQFL335.

53 ibid.

54 Duck News, November 1987, p. 7.

55 P. Thornton, ‘Is the Old Right Now New? The State, the Family and Sexual Repression in Queensland’, Social Alternatives, no. 5 (1987), p. 8.

56 Daily Sun (Brisbane), 3 December 1984, p. 1.

57 Australian, 31 August 1984, p. 3.

58 Weekend Australian, 17–18 November 1984, p. 1.

59 ibid.

60 ibid.

61 Myrick, AIDS, Communication and Empowerment, p. 79.

62 Adam Carr, ‘What is AIDS?’, in Eric Timewell et al., eds, AIDS in Australia, New York; Sydney: Prentice-Hall, 1992, p. 17.

63 William Rutkin, interview with Shirleene Robinson, 26 August 2009.

64 Media Release, ‘Queensland’s First AIDS Information and Phone Counselling Service Launched in Brisbane’, 11 August 1985, Queensland Association for Healthy Communities Archives.

65 Sendziuk, Learning to Trust, p. 121.

66 William Rutkin, interview with Shirleene Robinson, 26 August 2009.

67 ‘OutRage at 15 or the Rise and Fall of Practically Everyone’.

Cite this chapter as: Robinson, Shirleen. 2011. ‘HIV/AIDS and Gay Community Print News Media in 1980s Australia’, in Out Here: Gay and Lesbian Perspectives VI, edited by Smaal, Yorick; Willett, Graham. Melbourne: Monash University Publishing. pp. 88–103.

Out Here: Gay and Lesbian Perspectives VI

   by Yorick Smaal, Graham Willett