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Image for In 1966, lesbians showed Australia 'Love is Love'

In 1966, lesbians showedAustralia 'Love is Love'

“A lot of men refuse to believe that an attractive girl could prefer a girl and not a male.”

How far we’ve come? Flashback to 1966 – a groundbreaking documentary is transmitted on nationwide TV, giving many Australians a first insight into a strange Sapphic life on our doorsteps.

But it was a shadowy glimpse. Fearing being outed to their local communities, many of the women interviewed by Anne Deveson for 7 Days were filmed only with extreme close-ups and even in silhouette, like criminals – though they were not actually breaking any laws of the land.

“If you wish to lead a normal social life, you must lead a double life,” says one interviewee.

Some of the women were shown to be in happy same-sex relationships, while others spoke about marrying men and even engaging with electric shock therapies in an effort to become ‘normal’.

“I’m not ashamed in any way share or form, of what I am,” another bravely says. “I’ve learned to cope with it, I live by it, I like it.”

One women says was forced to resign from her job after her lesbian relationship was discovered, another was rejected from becoming an army cadet.

The program screened in February 1966, and the Sydney Morning Herald championed host Deveson’s efforts. “Tuesday’s documentary, which could have turned out to be just a nasty little piece of sensationalism, proved to be an honest and intensely moving look at a little known facet of society.”

Ultimately, these women’s stories are instantly recognisable and their sentiments are still echoed today over 45 years later…

“Love’s love, whether it’s between a man and a woman, a man and another man, or between two women. If the feeling’s genuine, then it’s all love.”

Watch the full half-hour TV doco below.
Note – audio begins 40 seconds in.

“When you meet these girls, these women, you realize that they’re normal human beings. As normal – if anyone’s normal – as you or I. Except that they direct their love towards another woman and not to a man.

“And yet they suffer because of our ignorance and because of our prejudice. What kind of future can they hope to have?”

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trina2004

trina2004 said on the 12th Mar, 2012

Scary. Glad I didnt live back then.

Lyndamp

Lyndamp said on the 12th Mar, 2012

How far we have come - thank goodness! There are still a few things that could improve but on the whole my life is a damned sight easier now that in the 70's when I was a baby dyke.

Irene

Irene said on the 13th Mar, 2012

In 1969 I was in year 9 at boarding school. The word got around that one of the girls was massaging other girls in their room after lights out. It was scandalous, and the first time I ever heard the word 'lesbian' or was aware that women could have a sexual relationship. Mind you, what this girl was doing was very tame.

mark_

mark_ said on the 13th Mar, 2012

I remember so many TV documentaries from my childhood years with people being interviewed in silhouette. How unlike today when they're happy to share their dirty linen with the masses!

I failed to identify the location of the main road; I recognise the harbour scene as being at Greenwich Point wharf overlooking Cockatoo Island. It was no doubt close to Anne Deveson's home. She was always so 'terribly North Shore' (she was interviewing these 'twilight people' while her own private life was a hotbed of husbands and disturbed children).