Homosexualists take over the streets of Sydney

sydney truth judy canova
Men modelling hats on Pitt St. Image: State Library of NSW.

In March 1932, the Sydney Arrow fretted that homosexualists were taking over inner-city streets and marking their territories with the sign of the Three Mullets.

The homosexualist colonisation apparently occurred as a consequence of recent police action to drive infamous womankind from the streets. Foul mincing perverts immediately took up the space vacated by sex workers. Nature does, of course, abhor a vacuum.

According to the newspaper, decent men could barely promenade some city streets without tripping over Parading Pansies.

“The serpent of Sex-perversion has raised its ugly head.

“Perverts have taken the place of prostitutes in such quarters as the Haymarket, Queen’s Square, and University Park.”

The Three Mullets

“There is an organised body with its fixed ‘beats’, with its own sign of the Three Mullets, drawn in public conveniences.

“Little is known about the club beyond the fact that it is called ‘The Three Mullets Club,’ and has a membership of around 100. Convincing proof of its existence can be found in any public convenience, where the sign of the Three Mullets is practically always to be found.”

Sadly the article gives no further description of the sign.

A mullet is, of course, a hairstyle. Though I have heard some sort of fish also goes by the same name. Or, in heraldry, a star with straight sides is known as a mullet.

Which was it?

Mullet, mullet or mullet?

sydney homosexualists march 11

Photos of the era show no evidence that the mullet was then a popular hairstyle.

So did the Three Mullets Club adopt a fish as their insignia? Did Sydney homosexualists perhaps take inspiration from Christ’s instruction to become fishers of men?

Probably not. Early Christians often drew the fish symbol as a code to indicate their secret meeting places. The Three Mullets Club members would not want a mob of salvationists rocking up mid-orgy rattling tambourines and noisily hallelujahing.

So, more likely, the sign of the Three Mullets comprised three stars drawn to indicate a gay meeting place. Or perhaps, the Arrow mistook a rating system for something more sinister and inner-city Sydney could not boast of any 5-star bogs.

Wanna make a few shillings?

The Arrow generously informed their Depression-era male readers that they could make a few shillings by visiting the places listed.

“It is not a case, as it was with the prostitute, of paying for indulgence. On the contrary, these maniacs pay, and in many cases pay well.

“Naturally enough, men as a general rule would rather starve than descend to such humiliations.”

(Yeah right! The Arrow knew very little about men. It’s amazing what many will do for a shilling.)

So where exactly did these great mobs of Sydney homosexualists congregate?

“Nightly, a large gang of perverts haunt the vicinity of the Haymarket, Belmore Park, and that particular area.

“Each member of the select little group has his own division to control… As some of the ‘beats’ are reputedly more profitable than others, it is usual for the paraders to change over regularly.

“The block bounded by Pitt, Campbell, Castlereagh and Hay Streets is reckoned to be a key centre, as is any division that contains a theatre…

“Belmore Park is the meeting place for this gang of perverts, where they congregate to discuss such matters as this type would want to discuss. The corners and shadows about the Central Railway Station, since the disappearance of the prostitute, is a favourite haunt of the homosexualist.

Appropriately enough, Queen’s Square is a recognised rendezvous and hunting ground of the class, as is the park below St. Mary’s Cathedral.”


sydney homosexualists march 11
Suspicious-looking types in the vicinity of St Mary’s. Image: State Library of NSW.

Read more: The Arrow on Sydney’s Kamp Kult – depression era fabulousness.

Not to forget Brisbane: “This in Brisbane, in the year 1932! Almost unbelievable but true — the most wicked city in the Commonwealth.”

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, and community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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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    11 March 2022

    A gay mate of mine had a poster advertising Board Shorts, it had a picture of a mullet fish draped on top of the boardies where a semi hard penis would lounge. The poster was from the late 1980’s… The slogan was: SLAP IT ON YOUR MULLET. The shape of the mullet is quite phallic due to its rounded head on a thick and rounded body.. The most popular species of Mullet on the Central Coast, just north of Sydney, is named the BULLY MULLET…

      11 March 2022

      Also, the Mullet is a cheap fish to buy, even now, so in Depression filled Sydney at the time, it would have been very a popular choice to consume.

  2. Kim Kemmis
    18 February 2023

    The ichthys (fish) sign used by the early Christians did not come into popular modern use until the 1960s with the rise of the Jesus People. Perhaps they did use the fish sign? (Or maybe the journo made it up – but that would never happen!)

    • 18 February 2023

      Reading is fundamental.
      The article clearly states: “Early Christians often drew the fish symbol as a code to indicate their secret meeting places.”
      ‘Early’ Christians existed in a different time and place to 1932 Sydney.
      It requires quite a remarkable contortion to turn this into an example of fake news.
      Back under your bridge.

  3. Douglas Clifford
    21 February 2023

    The fish symbolised in early Christianity emerged from the Koine Greek for “fish” being ICHTHYS (sorry, my computer doesn’t do the original Greek alphabet). The first three letters are “ICH” which stand for (I)esus (CH)ristos.

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