Sydney memorial to victims of gay hate violence unveiled at Bondi


bondi memorial sydney marks park acon gay hate transgender gay hate crime
Image: John McRae

The Bondi Memorial, a public artwork in Marks Park in Tamarama in eastern Sydney, is dedicated to victims and survivors of gay and transgender hate and violence.

Since 2015, LGBTIQ+ organisation ACON has worked with Waverley Council and the community on the permanent memorial in the park.

It honours the gay men and transgender women targeted in homophobic and transphobic attacks in Sydney from the 1970s to 1990s.

ACON officially unveiled the artwork, titled “Rise”, at the weekend. CEO Nicolas Parkhill said its completion is “an important milestone in the LGBTQ community’s journey towards healing.”

“For decades, our communities have endured the pain and trauma of these horrific acts of violence,” he said.

“Many gay men and trans women were killed, tortured or assaulted across Sydney, including along the city’s coastline and eastern suburbs.

“These events have left a sorrowful legacy that continues to be felt today.

“This memorial will serve as a monument to the victims and survivors and help heal the trauma these events have caused for their families and loved ones, as well as broader LGBTQ communities and many local residents.

“The memorial will also help raise greater community awareness of the issue of LGBTQ hate crimes.

“[It will also] promote the continuing need to pursue truth and justice, and serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing and celebrating diversity in our community.”

Meaning behind design of Sydney memorial

United Art Projects’ John Nicholson’s design, titled “Rise”, was among those shortlisted and ultimately chosen for the project.

The installation is located in an area of natural amphitheatre on the south-western side of Marks Park.

The staircase design flips the strata of the cliffs from a descent to the ocean to an ascent towards the horizon.

The act of climbing inverts the act of falling to a pathway forward away from the history of violence, the artist says.

A series of plaques in the artwork also honour those lost and key moments towards “healing, truth and justice”.

Thousands donated to ‘profoundly meaningful’ Bondi Memorial

The Waverley Council contributed $100,000 to the Memorial. Community members also made additional donations through ACON fundraising.

Locals Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg also gave a philanthropic gift of $64,000 to the project.

Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos said she was honoured to work with ACON on the “profoundly meaningful project”.

“Having a permanent catalyst for the ongoing building of an inclusive, accepting and resilient society will ensure that this dark history will never be repeated,” she said.

ACON’s Nicolas Parkhill thanked everyone who has contributed to the project over the years.

“We remember all those lost and extend our hearts to the survivors, families and loved ones,” he said.

“The Bondi Memorial: Rise is dedicated to you. May this monument be a landmark of remembrance, strength, hope, healing, truth and justice.”

(All photos courtesy of John McRae)

Read more: New true crime podcast investigates Sydney gay hate murders

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