Aussie Queer History in 30 seconds: Dr Lilian Cooper

Dr Lilian Cooper arrived in Brisbane in 1891 with her life partner Josephine Bedford.

Dr Lilian Cooper was Brisbane’s first female doctor. She arrived in Queensland in 1891 accompanied by her life partner Josephine Bedford.

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Lilian and Josephine became renowned for their unstinting charity work. They also received medals for their wartime service, volunteering on the front lines in Europe.

On their deaths, they bequeathed their home for the construction of a palliative care hospital.

They rest for eternity in a shared grave at Brisbane’s Toowong Cemetery. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜



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Dr Lilian Cooper and Josephine Bedford became leading citizens in their new hometown. But only after some initial resistance. Male doctors would not even speak to the ‘Lady Doctor’ when she first arrived. They refused to accept referrals from her or to administer anesthesia when she operated.

However, Lilian was undeterred, her practice thrived, and the male doctors eventually gave in.

But Dr Lilian Cooper refused to pander for social approval. She was defiantly butch, ‘mannish’ according to her contemporaries, and dressed severely. She also swore like a bullocky.

But Dr Lilian Cooper and Josephine Bedford proved two of the most civic-minded citizens Brisbane ever knew. Their contributions to the community in which they lived made lasting impacts, particularly on the women and children of their adopted hometown.

Want to know more about these two amazing lesbians? Click away!

Two Women: A comprehensive history of Lil and Jo by longtime fan Destiny Rogers.

How did Brisbane respond to the in-your-face female power couple?

Lil and Jo met in England as teenagers before embarking on a life together in Australia.

Brisbane couple Katy Forde and Aleathea Monsour’s acclaimed musical about Lil and Jo: A Girl’s Guide to World War.

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at

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