27 gay men killed because they were gay, say Sydney Police

A New South Wales police review has found that 27 gay men were likely to have lost their lives to homophobic killers during a violent period of Sydney’s history in the 1980s.

The force is considering issuing a formal apology for its handling of the cases.

8 murder cases have been solved, and perpetrators convicted. A further 19 men are suspected to have died in similarly brutal attacks, while 25 other deaths could not be ruled out as hate crimes.



Death of Dennis Nilson


“Dennis Andrew Nilson, date of birth November 23, 1945, died in custody at HMP Full Sutton on Saturday May 12, 2018. As with all deaths in custody, there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probate Ombudsman.”

Prison Service Spokesman, 13 May 2018

The Muswell Hill Murderer was thirty four years into his whole life sentence when he died. He murdered his first victim, Stephen Holmes, who was only 14 years old, on 29 December 1978. Nilson then murdered a further fourteen young men in acts which the trial judge described as “almost unequalled savagery” at his home, ending with the murder of his last victim, Steve Sinclair, who was 20 years old, on 26 January 1983.

Nilson would sit with their corpses for days. He slept with their corpses, dressing and undressing them, moving them around his home and placing them in different positions, hide the bodies under the floorboards, then he would dismember them, burning the body parts and flushing them down the toilet to dispose of them.

His victims are all thought to be homosexual men he had picked up. They were:

Stephen Dean Holmes, age 14, died on 29.12.78

Kenneth Ockenden, age 26, died 3.12.79

Martyn Duffy, age 16, died 17.5.80

William Sutherland, age 26, died ?.8.80

Seven other men who have never been identified who died between 9.80 and 4.81

Malcolm Barlow, age 23, died 17.9.81

John Howlett, age 23, died ?.3.82

Graham Allen, age 27, died ?.9.82

Steve Sinclair, age 20, died 26.1.83.

We will always remember his victims.

Australia’s attempts to cure us of homosexuality



It’s pronounced metrosexual | 18313

Not six months after Australia voted to legalise same-sex marriage, a proposal to debate gay conversion therapies at the Liberal Party’s State Council was quashed by party president, Michael Kroger. Australia has long used gay conversion therapies to control homosexuality.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Colin Delaney, claimed in 1958 that homosexuality was “Australia’s greatest menace”. Homosexuals convicted for consenting sexual acts with other adult men were segregated and medicalised within the prison system.

Sydney-based Dr Neil McConaghy used conversion therapy during the 1960s and 1970s with what Michael Kirby has described as “the most energetic attempts”. Leading LGBTIQ figures of the time including Sue Wills and John Ware protested against the dangers of this therapy, and said it was a key motivation for their activism.

McConaghy’s practices included apomorphine therapy. This involved the injection of up to 6 mg of the morphine derivative to induce severe nausea when patients were shown photographs of men. He also required patients to read pleasurable words on homosexuality aloud, after which he applied electrical shocks to them.

There is still no scientific or medical evidence which supports or validates the use of conversion therapies. Hhomosexuality was removed as a disease from the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1987.


The difficulties of being out at work during the HIV Panic


The New York Times asked six of its gay journalists to look back at the way they had covered HIV/Aids and how easy it had been for them to work at the NYT during those times.

What emerged was a picture of a newsroom that often forced its L.G.B.T. journalists to choose between their career ambitions and their desire to have an openly queer life. The Times spent much of the 1980s figuring out how to cover gays as real people with newsworthy problems. It was also deeply unsure of how to deal with its gay employees, whose sexuality may have seemed, to those in management, to be at odds with the pedigree the institution wanted to uphold.

Remembering Charles Pierce



Charles Pierce | Copyright control | Find a grave | 18310

Charles Pierce was born on July 14, 1926 and died on May 31, 1999, of cancer. He described himself as a “male actress” but had a major influence on gay and drag culture throughout his life. He combined a long career of theatre and club engagements, including in London, with numerous appearances on television in the US.

Queerty noted in 2016 that

The blazing career of self-proclaimed “male actress” Charles Pierce was launched in the clubs of San Francisco around the time the struggle for gay rights was kicked into full gear with the Stonewall riots on the opposite coast. With his dead-on satirical send-ups of screen immortals such as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Tallulah Bankhead, Pierce quickly earned a devoted fan following and it was common to see celebrities of the day (ranging from Lucille Ball to Anthony Hopkins) in his audience.

Pierce was born in New York and began his show business career playing the organ and acting in radio dramas at station WWNY. He began playing in small gay clubs and went to live in San Francisco. He specialised in impersonating the female movie stars he loved while he was growing up, including Joan Crawford and Mae West.

“Few performers have Mr. Pierce’s energy and aplomb on stage,” wrote the San Francisco Examiner reviewer in 1990. “This man is an entertainer; he enjoys himself up there, lustfully commanding our attention and admiration.”

In the 1970s he brought his show for a limited run to the Fortune Theatre in London’s West End.




Major collection preserved in Louisiana



2nd left: Stewart Butler; far right: Rich Magill | Undated | Stewart Butler and LARC | 18305

The Louisiana Research Collection, housed at Tulane University now holds the letters, diaries and flyers of four prominent gay activists: Rich Magill, Alan Robinson, Skip Ward and Stewart Butler.

Leon Miller, head of the collection, called the acquisition “extremely significant.”

Magill wrote “Exposing Hatred,” a study of violence perpetrated against the gay community.

Robinson owned and operated Faubourg Marigny Books and founded many LGBTQ organizations.

Ward promoted the rights of gay people in rural areas.

Butler remains a force in the civil rights movement and his home has been a meeting place for civil rights activists since 1979. He co-founded Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus of Louisiana in 1980. He advocated for the New Orleans gay rights ordinance in 1984, 1986 and 1991, and served on boards including the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, the Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus and PFLAG.

The New Orleans Advocate notes:

Over the years, Butler amassed 25 boxes of documents, including letters, meeting minutes, election questionnaires and more.

“I didn’t throw things away,” Butler said. “I just kept them, because I thought maybe they could be useful in the future.”

Butler co-founded the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana in 2014. Shortly thereafter, he donated his papers to the research collection, which has acquired LGBTQ materials for more than 30 years.



Cuba – improved but not yet free



2016 Photo | Agence France Press/Getty Images | 18300

In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power after leading a revolution that toppled the corrupt government of Fulgencio Batista. Police began to round up gay men. During the 1960s and 1970s LGBT people were imprisoned or forced into “re-education camps”.

Homosexuality was viewed as going against the ideal of the hyper-masculine revolutionary. “We would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true revolutionary, a true communist militant,” Fidel Castro told an interviewer in 1965.

During the 1980s HIV-positive Cubans were quarantined in sanitariums. The conditions were harsh.

In 2010 Fidel Castro admitted responsibility for the injustices suffered by LGBT people after the revolution, apologising: “If someone is responsible, it’s me.”

Today Cuba’s constitution bans “any form of discrimination harmful to human dignity” and healthcare and visibility has improved. Since 2008, gender reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy have been available free of charge under Cuba’s national healthcare system; condoms are distributed, sex education and access to antiretroviral drugs have improved.

In 2013 Cuban law banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation but Cuba has yet to legalise same-sex marriage.

All this comes at a price. The only LGBT activism allowed is that which is controlled by the state.