1990: GLAD and ACTUP

1990 saw a minor resurgence in activism in the gay and lesbian community with two new, small, but active groups founded.

In Melbourne, Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination (GLAD) launched itself at the Fringe Festival parade, bringing its message to the world. Its aim was quite specific. The Victorian Labor government was starting to look at reform of its anti-discrimination laws and was committed to including sexuality within its ambit. Activists were concerned that this might not meet gay needs and were determined to get involved early. But the group, as its name suggests, was interested in a broader program as well – combating discrimination in the wider community. Perhaps its most notable work came a year or so later with the production of its wide-ranging survey of discrimination reported by lesbians and gay men, but its less visible work on lobbying and drafting mattered too.

Meanwhile, in Sydney, the AIDS crisis sparked the formation of the AIDS Campaign To Unleash Power (ACTUP). Others states followed quickly. Modelled on a US group of the same name, ACTUP wanted to tackle the complacency that was creeping into government attitudes towards AIDS issues. It opted for public defiance and emphasised activities that could capture media attention. A demo outside Parramatta Jail insisting on the provision of condoms to prisoners, a giant walking condom demanding the same from a recalcitrant Melbourne chemist, a die-in against the Olympics, five of the Stations of the Cross highlighting Catholic policy on safe sex …