Tribute to Peter BONSALL-BOONE
Bon, as he was known, was born on 8 July 1938 in Drummoyne (NSW). He passed away on 19 May 2017.
Bon attended Gladesville Primary School, Eastwood Opportunity and Sydney Boys High. At age 13, his gay uncle asked him if his fellow school mates were calling him names. Bon replied that some called him 'Queenie' because of his dislike of football. His uncle tried to cheer him up, telling him to ignore the name-calling. He went on to say that there were men who loved men and that he had nothing to worry about.
Bon was a trainee librarian (1957-1960), a theological student at St John’s in Morpeth (NSW) (1961-1962), a librarian with the Caulfield City Library (1963-1967), Secretary to St Clement’s Anglican Church at Mosman (NSW) (1968-1972), a Post Office employee (1973-1985) and a carer with the Community Support Network (1986-1994). He was dismissed from St John’s College following a retreat, after admitting to the bishop that his ambition in life was to live with a man. The bishop asked him to leave quietly during the second term vacation.
Bon and Peter de Waal joined John Ware and Christabel Poll in establishing CAMP NSW. In 1971, Bon organized the first meeting (a cheese and wine party) of CAMP NSW at St John’s parish hall in Balmain. On 21 October 1972, Bon appeared with Peter de Waal, Sue Wills and Gaby Antolovich on the ABC television documentary series Chequerboard. In November 1972, he was sacked from the position of secretary of St Clement’s Anglican Church. Bon had already alerted the Church’s Rector (Ray Weir) of the screening of the program. Some parishioners sent poisonous letters to him but one couple (June Salter and John Mellion) congratulated him for taking a stand. They also told him that they were only too happy for him to continue as their son’s music teacher. The church’s verger, however, opted to walk around an entire block to enter the church through another gate instead of walking past Bon office.
After his sacking from St Clement’s, Bon established Cross-Section, the Christian group within CAMP NSW, to help Christian homosexuals affirm their sexuality and stay in the church. Cross-Section folded up around the time of Troy Perry’s visit to Australia in 1974.
From 1985, Bon cared for PLWHAs, an area of gay activism he found most fulfilling.
He and Peter de Waal met on 10 July 1966. Phone-a-Friend, the telephone counselling service, operated from their home in Terry Street Balmain when it was first established.
Bon was a selfless man. He always had a smile on his face and, more often than not, a glass of wine in one of his hands. I remember him telling me, 'why drink water when you can drink wine!'
Bon and Peter de Waal both received Member of the Order of Australia awards for their 'significant service to the community as LGBTQI advocates and supporters, and through a range of volunteer roles'. The memorial service was held on Saturday 17 June 2017 at the Uniting Church in Ashfield where he was employed as an organist.