Today’s Birthday: Holding the Man’s Timothy Conigrave

Timothy Conigrave By Sophie Joske - Original publication: Published on Out in Perth website.Immediate source:, Fair use,
Timothy Conigrave Photo by Sophie Joske

Timothy Conigrave, author of the acclaimed memoir Holding the Man was born November 19, 1959.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them…

As I look back over Timothy Conigrave’s life, Laurence Binyon’s famous lines echo through my head. I recall now how strongly that ode of remembrance for the fallen of World War I resonated during the eighties and nineties as AIDS decimated entire generations of gay men.

Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo

That tragedy is, of course, front and centre in Timothy Conigrave’s Holding the Man.

In his late teens, Timothy Conigrave began his relationship with John Caleo, the captain of the football team at Melbourne’s Xavier College which they both attended. It was the end of the seventies, a decade that promised so much to queer people. After the sexual revolution of the sixties, the seventies seemed to herald an openness to queer issues and a trajectory towards gay law reform.

I was born the same year as Timothy Conigrave. Remembering the joy and optimism of the ‘gay scene’ of the late seventies still makes me smile. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, David Bowie, disco, Amanda Lear, Sylvester… Our people were everywhere in popular culture and the future seemed bright.

Born, born to be alive
(Born to be alive)
You see, you were born
Born, born
(Born to be alive)

Patrick Hernandez

God, how we loved that song. Because after a millennia of haters wishing and visiting death on queers, we at last felt born to be alive.

Then came the eighties, AIDS, and our lives became all about death.

Dying seemed inevitable. Before the advent of AIDS tests, we all assumed we would die. Many of us did. Some of us escaped unscathed, physically, at least. If you ignore the emotional toll of the many taken from us. All the promise unfulfilled. And so much unnecessary cruelty visited on an already suffering community by bigots.

We must never allow it to happen again.

So, if you haven’t, read Holding the Man.

And today, take a moment to remember the life of one of the remarkable young men we lost during those awful years.

Happy Birthday, Timothy Conigrave.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Remembering the Man


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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

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

1 Comment

  1. Mick Houghton
    23 November 2022

    Funny what grabs your focus some days, the book, movie and the times! We may have lived in the “best of times & the worst of times” . I too was born in 1959 and have seen too many of the world’s best relegated to history because of religion and politics. I don’t pray but at every point I try to improve life for those in need. Until the world grows up there will always be minority bashing. Those doing the bashing forget we all are needed in a society if we are to advance. The world cant even agree on something as obvious as climate change – I guess even their gods buggered up! Thanks for the memories of a kinder time though we didn’t see how quick it could change.

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