Men dancing together 1972 King Island


King Island

In 1972, Barry N. Hiller wrote a letter to the local paper on King Island in the Bass Strait.

Barry was pissed off about the homophobia he and his straight matter encountered when they danced together at the local pub.

King Island

Europeans first visited King Island in the very late 1700s. Thereafter, mainly sealers visited the remote and treacherous island. Over 60 known wrecks litter the shores of King Island, and many King Islanders are shipwreck survivors.

However, mining became a substantial industry in the 1900s, with substantial numbers of men moving to the island.

And therein lay the heart of Barry’s problem.

Men dancing together

SIR—I wish I had the journalistic ability to express myself more fully. Last night (Saturday) at the local tavern, I made the grave social error of dancing with another guy simply because I like to dance and could not get a female partner.

Need I say that the manager ordered us both from the premises on the complaint of a committee member. To be a single man on this Island gives me little joy, and the attitude of the married people in the majority towards the single man here is quite singular in the respect that they seem to regard him as a threat to their security.

It is not a crime to dance with a member of your own sex. If two women do it, it’s alright. Why, then, does it offend when two men do it? The people who are offended by the sight are mentally sick, in my opinion.

Men dancing together common in WA

In WA, where I come from, in the early days in the mining camps, it was the accepted thing for men to dance together. One would have a handkerchief tied around one arm, signifying which sex he was. They did this because of the shortage of women, and that is the only reason why we did it. Now I find that I not only had to suffer the embarrassment of being outed from the club, but I also have to suffer the humiliation of my so-called friends, with their sniggers and general suggestions that I’m a homosexual.

In the old days, a man could always resort to violence, but nowadays, he has no such mental release. He must suffer derogatory remarks. I love this Island and don’t want to leave, but I will be forced to. That is obvious.

Yours sincerely,

BARRY N. HILLIER,

King Island News 

Outside Mackay, the twirling earl of Yarmouth held all-male parties for his South Sea Islander workers and entertained the gathering with his scandalous drag act.

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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 destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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