A happy (and gay) New Year

In the very first hour of 1983, I was heading home from a party along Sydney’s Oxford Street in Darlinghurst. It had been pretty boring party and I hate the forced and false bonhomie of such occasions.

As soon as the New Year chimed in the party crowd were either heading home or mostly on to the next party. Walking home along the main thoroughfare (Oxford Street) between Paddington and Surry Hills, I decided to shoot some pictures of the revellers on the street. This stretch of Oxford Street is colloquially known as The Gay Mile. The mood was bouyant and friendly and for gay males 1982-83 must have been the International Year of the Mustache. When these three men in drag, with half a case of beer under arm, mugged for my camera I just had to respond.

Whenever anyone invites me to take a picture, I never refuse and these uninhibited men with their mad hair and their laddered fishnet tights were much too good a subject to pass up. A few months later this picture ran in the weekly news magazine, The Bulletin, under the headline “Gay plague hits Sydney”. In my mind it symbolised the deathknell of carefree sex in the gay community.

Oxford Street, Sydney, New Year, 1983

Oxford Street, Sydney, New Year, 1983

1 am, January 1st 1983, Oxford Street, Sydney

1 am, January 1st 1983, Oxford Street, Sydney

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Filed under Australian, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls, Stock photography

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