Author Talk: CAMP

Saturday 17 June, at The Women Library 5.00pm

Come and meet authors and activists Robyn Plaister and Robyn Kennedy.
Their meticulously researched anthology “CAMP” showcases stories and photographs from over 35 women and men involved in Campaign Against Moral Persecution – and the dramatic effect their involvement had on their lives as well as on the wider society.

Slide show, discussion, Q&A Free entry, all welcome

RSVP on the ticketing page.

On 6th February 1971, in an era when homosexuality was met with widespread societal disdain and persecution, and male homosexuality was still a criminal offence, a group of about 50 gay men and lesbians gathered in a Balmain church hall for the first public meeting of what became a pivotal movement in raising public awareness about the need for change. They called their group Campaign Against Moral Persecution – with CAMP as its inspired acronym. Christabel Poll and John Ware, already the first publicly “out” Gay man and Lesbian via an article in The Australian in 1970, became the first CAMP convenors.

The movement took off: pretty soon there was an on-going publication CAMP INK, a “Phone-A-Friend” support group for outside callers, meetings about how to change the law, plans for a conference, groups such as Society Five and the Australasian Lesbian Movement in other states, and – influenced by the burgeoning Women’s Liberation movement – the newly forming idea of Gay Liberation.

On the morning of 24th of June 1978, Gay Solidarity Group march which formed the first Mardi Gras.
Gay Solidarity Group street march, morning 24th June 1978. Photo by Sallie Colechin

And out of it all came the beginning of what is now a Sydney institution: the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. On the morning of 24th June 1978, to mark the 9th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, a Gay Solidarity Group march took to the streets. In the evening there was a Mardi Gras street party, which – thanks to brutal police intervention – became our own homegrown riot, with Stop Police Attacks on Gays Women and Blacks one of the instant responses. The mass protests that followed resulted in yet more arrests and only strengthened the fight for homosexual rights …

Rob Plaister escaping arrest in Oxford Street

NOTE: For anyone interested in purchasing a copy of the book, the first print run has sold out. The Women’s Library has a copy for members in-house perusal. You can send an email to and ask them to notify you if/ when they do a second edition.