Aussie Queer History in 40 secs: Noel Tovey

noel tovey

Aboriginal street kid Noel Tovey became one of Australia’s most accomplished dancers.

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Born into poverty, Noel Tovey suffered sexual abuse and neglect throughout his childhood.

After working as a rentboy, he served a term of imprisonment in Pentridge Gaol for the ‘abominable crime of buggery’.

Noel took dancing lessons and moved to London in 1960. He became an internationally renowned dancer and and acclaimed choreographer.

He returned to Australia in 1991 where his accomplishments include serving as artistic director for the indigenous welcoming ceremony at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.



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In addition to his trailblazing work in dance and theatre, Noel Tovey was a pioneering activist. He protested against Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ injustice but also against the Vietnam War and South African apartheid.

One of the first marchers at London Pride, he was also present at New York’s Stonewall Riot.

Noel says that he grew to understand and accept his sexuality despite the repeated sexual abuse he endured as a child.

“People used to say to me, ‘When did you come out of the closet?’ and I’d say, “I didn’t – we were too poor to have a closet!”


Read More: Noel Tovey, Indigenous ballet dancer to Stonewall rioter.

More Quick Aussie History:

Dr Lilian Cooper.

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

Earl Beauchamp, William Lygon.

earl beachamp william lygon

Marie Bjelke Petersen.

Marie Bjelke Petersen


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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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