Pioneering LGBTI activist Peter Bonsall-Boone was remembered by family and friends at a touching memorial service on Saturday.
Bon (pictured, right) passed away last month at age 78 following a battle with cancer. He’s survived by his partner of 50 years, Peter de Waal.
Speakers at the funeral service at Ashfield Uniting Church in Sydney thanked Bon for his decades of LGBTI activism and volunteer work, for which he received a posthumous Order of Australia honour this month.
“My beloved Bon had many wonderful attributes,” de Waal told the memorial.
“He was courageous, humble, forgiving, modest and generous, both in spirit and earthly possessions, to the point of nearly making us financially broke.”
De Waal recalled the struggles Bon faced as a gay man: he had two “minor homosexual offences” on his criminal record and lost his secretarial job at his church because of his sexuality.
The couple established Phone-A-Friend – now the NSW Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service – at their home in 1973 to offer support to other gay Australians. The couple were also 78ers – two of the protesters who clashed with police at the first Sydney Mardi Gras march in June 1978.
Peter and Bon appeared on ABC program Chequerboard in 1972 and broke ground at the time by sharing a brief kiss on television.
“Lots was made of the kiss but let me assure you that we’ve had much more passionate kisses than the one that appeared on the television program,” de Waal said.
During the height of the AIDS crisis, de Waal said Bon cared “day in, day out” for gay men affected by the disease.
“An extraordinary difficult and demanding task undertaken by a selfless man, my partner Bon,” he said.
The couple exchanged wedding bands on their 50th anniversary last year at a symbolic ceremony, but sadly Bon passed away before the couple could legally marry in Australia.
De Waal spoke out against “lost” conservative politicians who oppose marriage equality and said Bon had an “unfulfilled dream, shared by many others, to be married.”
“I used to say to him, ‘We’re two thirds there.’ We had two of the symbols which represent marriage equality: our wedding rings, a gorgeous three-tier wedding cake,” he said.
“However the third and most important symbol – the marriage certificate – never arrived.
“My dearest Bon, you were for me and countless others my north, my south, my east and my west. Rest in peace Bon, but rise in glory.”
Watch the memorial service in full below: