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I’m honoured that my book The Gay Science: Intimate experiments with the problem of HIV will be launched ~ alongside Susan Kippax and Niamh Stephenson’s Socialising the Biomedical Turn in HIV Prevention ~ at
a conference commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Mardi Gras, on the evening of Monday 25 June 2018.
The Pride of Place conference will explore themes of intergenerational lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer experience, and celebrate the evolving purpose, identity and influence of Mardi Gras within the LGBTIQ community. The relationship between LGBTIQ politics and Indigenous Australians, as well as multi-ethnic communities, will be a focus of conference discussion. The conference is co-sponsored by the Ally Network, the 78ers, Sydney Pride History, and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney.
The books – both of which emerge from the vibrant social movement around HIV in Australia – will be launched by Peter Aggleton and Annamarie Jagose at an event chaired by Elspeth Probyn at 5.30pm on Monday 25 June, in the Refectory of the Abercrombie Building, University of Sydney (level 5).
Just prior to the launch, the conference is featuring a panel discussion, Mardi Gras and Communal Responses to HIV in Australia, from 4.15pm, featuring Dennis Altman (La Trobe University) Heath Paynter (AFAO), Nicolas Parkhill (ACON) and Niamh Stephenson, UNSW:
Mardi Gras and Communal Responses to HIV in Australia
The Mardi Gras festival, protest and party have been particularly – and perversely – generative of communal responses to HIV in Australia. At the beginning of the AIDS crisis there were calls to ban the parade, with one of the government’s principal advisors on AIDS describing the party as a ‘Bacchanalian orgy’. But it soon became evident that the parade and party could serve as hallmark events in which the possibility of a communal, collective response to the crisis could be celebrated and embodied. Some of the most brilliant HIV/AIDS education has emerged from Mardi Gras culture, garnering international recognition for Australia’s bold, irreverent partnership response to the epidemic. This panel of distinguished speakers from the community sector and academia will explore why the culture of Mardi Gras has generated such dynamic, collective responses to HIV in Australia.
If you would like to attend that session, or any other parts of the conference, you are required to register for the event (the standard price is $50 for the full two days, with some concessions as per the conference website).
Are you gay/bi/queer/lesbian/trans/non-binary/HIV-positive?
Do you live in NSW or Victoria, Australia?
Do you use any medications, drugs, or alcohol to transform any aspect of your sexual experience, everyday life, or gendered feelings?
If so, please consider participating in this important study about experiences of drug, medication and other substance use among LGBTQ we are conducting:
(click on the above for more information about the study)
Interviews are completely confidential and anonymous, last about an hour, can be conducted in a location convenient to you, and participants will be modestly reimbursed for their time.
You can register you interest here
This piece was written by the smart and switched-on Australian journalist Julia Baird, sister of former NSW Premier Mike Baird, the bloke who presided over intensified police drug dog operations that made us hate and fear the cops again, the one who went on with his cronies to become such fierce and thick upholders of the NSW lockout laws, which effectively obliterated social life in general and Sydney’s gay party culture in particular as we knew it…
Remember that guy?
Anyway, back to the good bit, Julia wrote this piece in 2004 ~ more than a decade before her brother Mike became Premier of NSW (the same year, it turns out, that internet sites for the first time became the most common way men looked for each other for sex; a circumstance strangely absent from the accounts the article engages with to work out what was changing, how, and why …but I say this in hindsight, more a retrospective thought to inform present activities/ activisms.
In Chemical Palace, Fiona McGregor articulates that sense in the late 90s that things were splintering, but what were the mechanisms of that splintering? It splintered in so many ways: including all those she names, for sure, and more ..
For guys especially, I think, one important source of this splintering was the new pleasures and possibilities and problems of digital cruising ..(I explore the impacts of digital culture on queer sexual sociability in my new book, The Gay Science (Routledge, 2017).
One thing I wonder about, re-reading this piece today, at any rate, is whether Mike ever read his sister’s piece, and if the did, what he thought of it? could he relate? how did it affect him? Could he even be bothered trying to get a sense of what it’s feeling out for, its significance, its meaning?
Because I guess in the back of my mind I’m wondering, Mike (if I may): did you ever have the pleasure of partying at Mardi Gras? with your sister? or whoever? did you enjoy it? make new friends? smile with someone? learn new dance moves? get a jiggle in your hips? have an adventure? have a chat with ….anyone? anything?
(I just remember how my sister and I loved these parties, went to them together, or separately with our friends and others, so many times, such awesome times, all of us dancing, playing, laughing, crying, moving, joking, smiling, zoning out, searching, encountering each other, beside ourselves, together…)
And Mike if you did get the pleasure, what did you think of it? What did it do for you? How did it change you? How could it not have??
Tell us, wherever you are, Mike Baird, what did you make of it? Do you remember? (because many of us do). What did you do to it? Where are they now?
I can’t help thinking, you see, Mike, had you actually got that pleasure … ( & now I’m just speculating I suppose) … what would Sydney feel like today? How would it differ? What would we be capable of? How would it feel? What might become of that history today – the good bits at least – & what supports do we need to build for these good bits to flourish, right now, all together, in the present?
It’s not at all a matter of wanting or thinking we can somehow just go back and live happily in some romanticised mid 1990 bubble. I don’t think anyone really thinks or wants that, anymore. Things have changed. We’ve moved on. New things are happening now, some better, some worse – including for new, previously excluded, identities and constituencies – that nobody could have imagined then. Creativity. Or, as Muriel Heslop’s father would say, ‘You can’t stop Progress’… (I beg to differ)
No, it’s more a matter of thinking about what this time did for us, what bits are worth carrying forward, what bits are worth affirming and remembering, what we want to let go of, what can’t we forget? . In other words, this isn’t a whinge, or some sort of nostalgic rant (ok maybe just a little bit of each/both to be honest), but actually meant this festive season, in the gayest of spirits as an entirely practical question:
How can we make what was nourishing and energising and important about those times, those spaces, those processes, those connections, those intimacies, those dynamisms, return/again ~ be renewed ~ newly happen?
I love Dion Kagan’s fresh new thinking on this question, by the way … he’s young and well-read and smart and lives in Melbourne and well, he definitely gets it. His book is even bathed in the inverted colours of Gay Christmas! 🖤❤️🖤
Perfect Summer Reading ☀️ Hopefully it’s out before Gay Christmas (by which I mean late February… what were you thinking??)
I became a Dr in Health Sexuality & Culture 13 years ago in the building pictured in the screenshot of my Facebook Profile above.
It was lovely to have the chance to go back there and visit for a workshop convened by Associate Professor Niamh Stephenson, from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at UNSW this week.
Niamh recently published a book with our supervisor and mentor, Professor Sue Kippax, Socialising the Biomedical Turn in HIV Prevention, and the workshop was a nice way to celebrate it’s publication.
The campus looked so beautiful, more beautiful than I remember. And it was so nice to reconnect with colleagues working in the area, some of whom I’ve known for 2 decades (!!) to share what we are working on and how we are thinking these days. (Click here for pictures) 🌿
The other thing to say is that working in my field over the past 13 years just seems to have made me …gayer 🌸💗💕
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