Community legend Dr Bernard Gardiner gets top Queens Ball honour

Dr Bernard Gardiner gets Lifetime Achievement Award at Queens Ball Awards
Image: Brisbane Pride

78er and longtime LGBTQIA+ health advocate Dr Bernard Gardiner has received the top honour at the 62nd Queens Ball Awards.

The Queens Ball is proudly the longest-running continuous LGBTQIA+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy event in the world.

The glitzy gala event returned to Brisbane City Hall on Saturday (June 17).

More than a dozen Queensland advocates, performers and organisations received awards at the ceremony.

Host Paul Wheeler announced the community’s highest honour, the Queens Ball Lifetime Achievement Award, went to Dr Bernard Gardiner, “a true pioneer in the fight for equality.”

For over 30 years, the activist and health advocate has worked in the national and global response to HIV across multiple continents.

In Queensland, he’s involved with the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health (QC) and previously managed Thorne Harbour Health. (formerly the Gay Men’s Health Centre, then Victorian AIDS Council).

Bernard also worked for UNAIDS, worked throughout Asia for the Red Cross, and was Global HIV Program Manager for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva for seven years.

Dr Bernard Gardiner’s activism began at CAMP Club

Dr Bernard Gardiner said he’s “greatly honoured and moved” to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. He said his activism and community work began in Queensland, and had taken him around the country and the world.

Brian Day, who was at the CAMP Club [Campaign Against Moral Persecution], got me involved in activism as a teenager,” he said.

Bernard also named as mentors UQ Camp Club member Colin Briton, ex-nun and Vietnam Moratorium marcher Val Edwards, and educator Gabrielle Walsh in his speech.

But the longtime campaigner added that sadly, with activism came discrimination.

“I had to leave Queensland after one year of teaching with the Queensland Education Department,” he recalled.

“A gay preschool teacher was not something that was tolerated in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland.”

Bernard said he is a 78er and “narrowly missed” arrest on the fateful night of the first Mardi Gras in Sydney in 1978.

“I would have been sacked for the second time in less than a year for being gay,” he said.

‘So much talent in our community’

Dr Bernard Gardiner is now back in Queensland. He said recently, he’s loved working with QC, as well as Queensland Positive People and others.

“We’re blessed with so much talent in our community,” he said, urging the importance of recognition for “consistent, quiet work behind the scenes”.

Bernard also paid tribute to his partner of 26 years, Charan.

“Since I turned 40 and met my wonderful partner, my contributions have largely been teamwork. I couldn’t have done it without you,” he said.

Stream the 62nd annual Queens Ball Awards on Facebook here.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia


  1. Brian Day OAM
    21 June 2023

    I’m tickled pink that Dr Bernard Gardiner mentioned me as assisting him. The moral of our stories is that compassion always finds a way of expressing itself. Brian Day OAM

  2. Val France
    23 June 2023

    Congratulations Ian. We are so lucky to have you in our lives and Maleny is so privileged to have two of the Queensland Greats living in our community. Brian and you have done so much for the local LGBTIQA + community as well as the wider Queensland and whole of Australia communities. Thank you. Val France – Maleny

  3. Colin Briton
    13 July 2023

    I’m also chuffed that Dr Bernard Gardiner mentioned my name. Very generous, as always.

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