1966: Heart Balm

In 1966, seemingly out of the blue, camp people started to speak for themselves. And where was this new openness to be found? Surprisingly enough, in the letters page and in the Heart Balm advice column of the Truth, Melbourne’s favourite scandal sheet.

Reader of Albert Park was a homosexual in his twenties, living with a ‘square chap’ who did not know and who would leave if he ever found out. Knowing that homosexuality was wrong (thanks to a strict religious upbringing), Reader was desolate and wanted only to meet another chap, just somebody he could talk to about his problem.

Lonely Jim’s story was even sadder. She was a 16 year old schoolgirl, ‘unhappy and lonely’ because she could not find a girl like herself. She often found herself roaming the streets hoping she might find someone. She dresses as a boy when she does this, but doubts that she fools anyone. Is she doomed to a life of loneliness, wandering from coffee bar to coffee bar looking for a girlfriend?

And yet, there were signs of hope. Elizabeth was kamp, too – a man, happily married to Keith, with whom he shares a nice, well furnished flat; they are blissfully happy. They both work in a large city hotel frequented by their kamp friends and attend many large parties where they drink and dance, the kings in beautiful suits, the queens very pretty in frocks wigs and makeup.

It was this last that most disturbed the advice-writer. ‘Tragic’, s/he said, obviously deeply unhappy!