IT ALL STARTED WITH A LETTER

On 8 March 1978, Paula Bud of the Community Participation Committee of the San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Committee for Cultural Affairs sat down to write a letter to ‘friends’ in America and overseas. The letter called on ‘friends’ of the movement to commemorate the Stonewall Riots and take a stand against the New Right’s mobilization against gay activism. Anne Talvé and Ken Davis, then both members of the Socialist Workers Party, were among those to receive a copy of the letter.

Dear Friends

 

As representatives of San Francisco's large and active gay community, we are encouraging world-wide activities for gay rights June 25th and the week before in order to present the largest and most unified show of support in history.

 

For the past several years, in the United States (and abroad), parades and others [sic] activities have been held the last week in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement in this country. Last year, due to an outpouring of emotion (the parade was only a few weeks after the defeat in Miami and the murder of a gay man here in San Francisco) 375,000 participated in San Francisco's parade, and smaller parades and demonstrations were held across this country and abroad (in Barcelona, London and Amsterdam, for example).

 

We expect the parade to be as large, if not larger, this year due to 1) campaigns by anti-homosexual forces, such as John Briggs in California and Anita Bryant, which are challenging our very existence, plus 2) an increasing pride and openness by gay people.

 

We urge lesbians and gay men in you [sic] community to:

 

1) Have a parade, march, demonstration on June 25th,

2) Have speakers, films, or other events concerning gay pride during the week before June 25th,

3) If possible, send representatives of your community to be with us in San Francisco in our parade,

4) Send us support statements (letters, telegrams).

Imagine the positive impression millions of people marching peacefully and proudly for gay rights will have on world opinion! Please share this letter with your friends.

 

Sincerely

Paula Bud

Community Participation Committee

Ken Davis decided to convene a meeting at the USYD. He wrote to interested organisations on 5 May 1978, enclosing a copy of the letter he had received from the Community Participation Committee. Like many other activists, Ken Davis toyed with the idea of ‘reach[ing] out with liberationist ideas to new layers of homosexual women and men’ but he appears to have had no precise plans on how to reach the wider homosexual community.

Dear friends,

 

[W]e have received the enclosed letter from the San Francisco community. We don't know who else has; maybe you already have a copy.

 

We want to organise some sort of solidarity action by Sydney lesbians and male homosexuals. A (hopefully large) public meeting has been suggested. We see any such action as being worthwhile because we surely need international homosexual solidarity, because we see it as a chance to reach out with liberationist ideas to new layers of homosexual women and men, and because this event can build for the coming August National Homosexual Conference, and for a possible counter-mobilization against the Festival of Light in September (Mary Whitehouse's visit).

 

We have called a meeting for Saturday May 20th, at l.00pm at Sydney University S.R.C. (under the bridge on City Rd.)

 

Please, please come,

 

[S]olidarities,

 

(signed Ken Davis)

The response to the invitation was encouraging. A meeting was held on 20 May 1978. It attracted representatives from CAMP, the University of Sydney Gay Liberation group, Active Defence of Homosexuals on Campus, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Communist Party of Australia, the Socialist Youth Alliance, Young Labor, the Spartacist League and the International Socialists. What emerged from that meeting was the Gay Solidarity Group.