If I think about all of the things which have happened in terms of gay life in Lismore during my lifetime, there’s a lot to reflect upon.
As a teenager, I remember the homophobic editorials from Jim Brigginshaw, Editor of “The Northern Star”. I remember doing a school project, aged 16, where I was part of a group that interviewed him, and I was terrified. As a teenager, I also remember the social scene was very much based around “the beats”, and in particular, the log outside the City Hall. For me, it wasn’t a “sex culture”, it was a social outlet to meet other guys. As a teenager, I remember Mike Bray and his partner (Hank?) opening “Double Dutch” Lismore’s first gay restaurant in the early 80s. I also remember Mike and Vera Bourne (the mother of a schoolmate) hosting Gaywaves on the same community radio station I volunteered at (2NCR). I remember listening in my bedroom on a Tuesday night. Later I went on to fill in as presenter on a few occasions. I remember the start of “Tropical Fruits”, though I never attended early events as they were usually outside town.
As an adult I remember the opening of The Winsome as a gay pub. The pub my dad used to drink at when I was a child, was suddenly the place to be. As an adult, I also remember heading off to Tropical Fruits the night before my school reunion. A couple of years ago, I remember doing Tropical Fruits NYE for the very first time, and attending a film festival, and this year, a photograph exhibition.
A lot has changed in Lismore, and I’m so proud the city in which I grew up hosts Tropical Fruits. Today, it was my first street parade. Bravo Tropical Fruits.