Freedom to Be Who You Were
Julian Desaily and Peter McEwan during a Gay Liberation weekend at Blackwood, unidentified photographer, 1973. Papers of Peter McEwan.Contributors
Permission to reproduce image must be sought from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.Copyright
Copyright c/- Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
The liberating space of consciousness raising groups often highlighted the alienation that many, particularly younger gay men and women, felt from society in general and the existing camp culture.
John Langworthy recalls:
I grew up in an era when there was no public space for gays anywhere. Most gay people were consumed with self-doubt, censorship was widespread so there were very few references to it anywhere in public, there were horrible stereotypes about what gay people were and what they were about. A lot of gay people from that era ended up with a lot of self-hatred, self-loathing.
The freedom just to talk about one's homosexual feelings and experiences was not something that many gay people had had until this point. Even today many circles of friends trace their origins to consciousness raising groups and the bonds formed within them, and activists still speak fondly and enthusiastically of their time in consciousness-raising. In the end, though, it was said, if CR groups were really to be understood, they had to be experienced rather than talked about.