State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 87 May 2011


Liz Ross
Love's Coming of Age: Australian socialist and communist parties and sexuality

In that Year of the revolution, 1917, praise flowed for Edward Carpenter's Love's Coming of Age, a book whose mission was described as 'an attempt to remove the altar of love from present "dens of stuffy upholstery" to the high canopy of the stars'. And this praise came from none other than John Curtin, the noted Victorian Socialist Party's 'firebrand'. Curtin had just moved to Perth to become the editor of the Westralian Worker and to spread socialist politics in the West. Although never confirmed, Curtin, writing as 'Vigilant', also took over the role of the paper's book reviewer. 'Vigilant' thought the time was right to 'grasp firmly the nettle of social evils and particularly the immediate moment with its surfeit of sex-problem picture shows . . . to direct public attention to some really serious works upon the subject . . . Love's Coming of Age deals with the sexproblem in its every aspect'. 1
While it's not entirely clear what the sex-problem was, 'Vigilant' argued strongly 'that the only ultimate complete solution of the sex-problem, bound up as it is with the economic dependence of woman, lies in the emancipation of society. This idea comes naturally to Socialists, who understand the nature of the economic serfdom of today and who cleave to the classic statement [by Engels]: 'Never shall this problem be solved until there lives upon this earth a race of youths and maidens who have never been obliged, nor even tempted, to enter a loveless match, nor deterred from entering a love match, through material motives – considerations of social prestige on the one hand, or the necessity for a "home" on the other"'. 2
The book was, in 'Vigilant's' view, definitely challenging, with some 'daring tentative suggestions' which would probably prevent young people being allowed to read it. But he was having none of this, seeing it as suitable for adolescents, while adding that 'its sweet ideals' should be passed on by parents to their children, so that 'when their turn comes, they may approach the enchanted lands of love and marriage with fuller knowledge'. Although these 'daring tentative suggestions' must have included Carpenter's chapter on homosexuality – or the 'intermediate sex' as he called it – 'Vigilant' never directly refers to homosexuality.
Ross's Monthly of that same year, however, wasn't so coy with its masthead claiming it was a magazine of 'Protest, Personality and Progress'. Published in Melbourne, it was racy newspaper – racy of the soil (earthy) – and it is not surprising that it tackled some of the 'hot-button' topics of the day. Heading its review 'A courageous sex book', Ross's reviewer wrote of Love's Coming of Age: 'There is a very illuminating chapter on The Intermediate Sex . . . [where] attention was first drawn to the subject about 30 years ago by Ulrichs, an Austrian. It is extremely interesting as a subject of investigation and a fuller
knowledge of it would lead to a considerable modification of our views on the subject of marriage and sex relations in general'. From this, the reviewer noted, Carpenter 'moves naturally to the discussion of the possibility of a Free Society'. 3
As these writers indicate, sex, including homosexuality, was a compelling issue for the left, as it has continued to be. Others also have pointed to the rise of lesbian and gay rights in tandem with revolutions. One of the first examples is the French Revolution resulting in 1791 in the effective decriminalisation of homosexuality. The Napoleonic Code of 1804, which was based on the ideals of the Revolution, was widely adopted throughout Europe. Equally influential was the Russian Revolution of 1917, with its wide-sweeping changes affecting all aspects of life including the decriminalisation of homosexuality. In 1920 17-year old Bolshevik David Khanin was already a leading member of the youth organisation Komsomol and fighting with the Red Army during the Civil War. In his memoirs he writes passionately when questioned why must he speak of sex: 'Is it because we didn't experience love? Because we lived as ascetics? In the name of revolution did we suppress in ourselves explosions of feeling and the flesh? No, a thousand times, no! We loved just as other generations'. In light of such declarations, it is no wonder historian Gregory Carleton writes of this time: 'People could not remain silent in the midst of a revolution that was the most audacious effort in history to give men and women freedom to live and love as they chose, to release them from the prejudices and restrictions of the past'.4
The events of 1917 also inspired socialists in Australia. Victorian Socialist Party (VSP) member Amelia Lambrick noted, it was 'a time of rapid movement. Old methods, old ideas, old conceptions are in the crucible. Changes vital and far reaching are making themselves felt'. 5 On 26 October 1920, twenty-six women and men from socialist groups, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and some unionists from the New South Wales 'Trades Hall Reds' met in Sydney to form the Communist Party of Australia (CPA).6 It was a party that explicitly aligned itself with the Russian Revolution and saw itself as a dedicated activist revolutionary party.
The original manifesto outlined that 'The Communist Party is essentially a fighting organisation and not a debating club'. Adds its historian, Stuart Macintyre, 'The success of the Bolsheviks was taken to validate Lenin's insistence on the need to seize the revolutionary opportunity; the split in the ranks of the pre-war socialist international was seen as distinguishing those who made revolution, from those who merely talked of one'.7 With the working class the agents of change in Russia, the CPA's whole orientation was to this class. This led to significant differences between the new CPA and existing socialist groups such as the VSP, some of whose members had been part of the CPA's original gathering. Without a clear-cut focus on the working class, the VSP was to fold by 1923, while the CPA grew. 8
However, as the fledgling workers' state faced famine, war and the decimation of the working class, as well as Lenin's death, the situation in Russia deteriorated. From the mid-1920s, Joseph Stalin began his rise to power. Ruthlessly destroying all traces of the
revolution's gains and the politics that made them possible, Stalin transformed Russia into a state capitalist power.9 The much-vaunted freedom from prejudice and restriction of the early days came under attack as the Stalinist regime vigorously promoted the capitalist nuclear family, tighter divorce laws, restrictions on abortion and, in March 1934, the re-criminalisation of homosexuality.
Leon Trotsky, one of the Revolution's leaders, became a passionate opponent of Stalin and the changes in Russia. Among other criticisms, he attacked these backward steps in The Revolution Betrayed: 'the leaders are forcing people to glue together again the shell of the broken family and not only that, but to consider it, under threat of extreme penalties, the sacred nucleus of triumphant socialism. It is hard to measure with the eye the scope of this retreat'.10 Trotsky himself was, naturally, a target of Stalin – in the end he was assassinated by one of his agents – and became a hated figure in the Stalinised Communist Parties world-wide. Nonetheless, Trotsky's influence was not completely lost. Once in opposition to Stalin, he called for the formation of political groups around the world to carry on the revolutionary tradition he had been so much a part of establishing. Some of these groups were to play an important role in the 1970s Gay Liberation Movement.
How did Australia's Communist Party and its members fit into this picture? Did they feel they too must speak of sex? Did they want to be part of that most audacious effort to give women and men freedom to live and love as they chose? Or, on the other hand, did they see no links between sexual liberation, Marxism and revolution? Are the critics, such as left-wing historian Eric Hobsbawm, correct in claiming that 'sexual liberation has only indirect relations with any other kind of liberation' and that socialist revolution led to totalitarian, highly repressive states, puritanism and 'a paralysing fear of love and eroticism'?11 With most of the world's communist parties toeing the Stalinist line by the 1930s, did the CPA become puritanical and repressive in its political expression?
The CPA's position was complex. On the one hand, it was determined to champion the cause of women at work – equal pay, working conditions, unionisation and the like. As well, it properly considered that issues such as birth control, marriage and prostitution were socialist concerns of importance for all workers. And for most of its existence the CPA was way out in front of society on these questions.
On the other hand, like the Communist Parties around the world they ceased to be revolutionary. Instead heavily influenced by Soviet social conservatism, which mirrored that of Anglo/Western capitalism, they missed opportunities to take up the cause of minorities, such as that of homosexuals. One area of the CPA's principled and active support for minorities – that of Aboriginal rights – indicates what the Party was capable of. The Aboriginal cause more clearly fell within their working class, anti-ruling class focus and was often in response to action taken by Aborigines themselves. There were no similar working class demands voiced by homosexuals around rights at work until the 1970s. Nor, until the late 1960s, was there any Australian homosexual rights movement, despite the efforts of Communist Party member and poet Laurie Collinson in 1958 to
set up a homosexual law reform group and an early call from a 1952 Law Conference in Canberra for decriminalisation.12
To return to the first decades of the twentieth century. The Communist Party was formed out of a socialist milieu that was outspoken on the questions of sex, sexuality and women's rights and took them up in their press and public meetings. Throughout this period – and indeed up until the late 1960s – sexuality in the socialist, and later the communist press, primarily came up in five contexts: marriage, birth control, prostitution, venereal and other sexually transmitted diseases, and censorship. Homosexuality was rarely mentioned directly or positively until the 1970s, but sometimes there were more veiled, mostly neutral, references.
Homosexuality never appeared openly in the pages of the VSP's publications, nor was the case ever put to change any of the criminal laws. In the mainstream press of its time (1906-1923), there were regular mentions of men charged with a variety of 'homosexual crimes', some on women who cross-dressed or even married other women, a few about lesbians and an article on a 'remarkable theory' of homosexuality.13 Edward Carpenter's first mention in the VSP's weekly paper the Socialist was a letter from him weighing in on the debate within the socialist movement around the question of general strikes. While the American radical poet Walt Whitman was praised for his working class poems and other writings, again no mention was made of his homosexuality or the homosexual references in his poems.14
There was one time when the Socialist did respond to the mainstream press coverage. 'Passing women', women who dress and live as men, have occurred throughout history and in Australia often during times of high unemployment. There have been a number of high profile cases, one of which was Marion (Bill) Edwards. In 1906, the Socialist put her case as a strong argument for equal pay, rather than anything to do with sexuality. As the paper wrote: 'Marion Edwards who had been dressing in male attire for the last seven years is a Welsh girl. She says she first donned male clothes to enable her to get a living easier than she could as one of the gentler sex. Moral – equal pay for equal work and thorough training for both sexes, with economic freedom for all'.15 While this was a great way to argue for equal pay, it said nothing about homosexual emancipation.
In the socialist press books were routinely recommended for reading, including many about 'sex hygiene' and education though usually without mention of any homosexual content or the sexuality of the author. Havelock Ellis's Men and Women, Carpenter's Love's Coming of Age, Richard von Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, along with Oscar Wilde's The Soul of Man Under Socialism and his Collected Works, were merely noted as a books for sale with no further comment or review. The Socialist, however, did refer readers to Ross's Monthly – where they would have read about Carpenter's 'brave book', among other detailed book reviews.
Importantly, the book that is key to a Marxist analysis of women's oppression (and, hence, homosexual oppression), Frederick Engels Origin of the Family, Private Property

Review of Edward Carpenter's Love Coming of Age under the title 'A Courageous Sex Book' in Ross's Monthly, 18 August, 1917. The reviewer was Victorian Labor MLA, Tom Tunnecliffe. Note the advertisement for 'Books About Sex' at the bottom right.

and the State was regularly referred to. There were frequent extracts and many articles based on the book, all a mark of how seriously the VSP took the question of women. August Bebel's Women and Socialism, Eleanor Marx Aveling and Edward Aveling's The Woman Question and outspoken Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai's books were also frequently referred to, with extracts printed in the paper's columns.
From 1920, with regular articles in the Communist on the beacon of the Russian Revolution lighting the way for the future, the new Communist Party enthusiastically took up the cause for freedom and its publications constantly promoted the gains of the revolution for women in Soviet Russia and pointed to what could be won in Australia. International Women's Day – the initiative of German Communist Clara Zetkin – with
regular articles about its history and celebration around the world. Equal pay and the campaigns for it that reached through the Party's history were also covered in detail. The Party's publications frequently carried references to and extracts from all the books mentioned above, as well as selling copies of important texts. In 1921, the Communist reported the sale of 21 copies of Kollontai's Communism and the Family at the Kurri Kurri coalfields in New South Wales.
The CPA's first foray into the questions of sexuality came on the front page of the first number of their paper the Communist (later Workers' Weekly, finally Tribune) in an article by Adela Pankhurst entitled 'Communism and Social Purity: An Appeal to Women'. Pankhurst noted that if the Party ever became a force large enough to be feared by the capitalist class, 'we shall be associated in the press by accusations of "Free Love" and "Communism of Women"'. (Socialists had been attacked on this very basis, even before the Russian Revolution, with extensive misquoting from the Communist Manifesto by the anti-socialist forces.)
Pankhurst turned the accusations back on the capitalist class, arguing that 'profits and prostitution – upon these Empires are built and Kingdoms stand'. Instead, though putting it somewhat more conservatively than the Russians envisaged, 'Communism will abolish prostitution . . . it will encourage purity and decent self-restraint. It will give young men and women the opportunity of marriage based on mutual love, because it will remove poverty and drudgery out of the lives of everyone'. Others such as Ella Morgan argued that communism would mean 'the very taste of life' for women and that 'if women become rebels, the revolution is in sight'.16
In fact the capitalist class in Australia was not idly sitting by waiting for the Communist Party to become a force. In the immediate post-WWI period, the conservative Women's Reform League and National Council of Women organised against the perceived post-war instability. Citing the 'tremor of unrest that was threatening to upheave its [capitalism's] very foundations' and the Russian Revolution's 'sinister, disturbing influence even on the fundamental moral relationship', these groups were mobilising women in support of the 'private ownership of productive property as the cornerstone of democracy and civilisation itself and to impose the discipline necessary for a return to industrial stability'. They argued against young women's freedoms, calling for more women police, early hotel closing and 'guardians' in the factories. A typical scaremongering description of women's position in Russia after the Revolution was printed in the League's Woman's Voice:
A girl having reached her eighteenth year is to be announced as the property of the State . . . (she is) obliged, subject to most severe penalty to register at the Bureau of Free Love in the Commissariat of Surveillance . . . men between the ages of 19 and 50 have the right to choose from among the registered women even without the consent of the latter, in the interests of the State. Children who are the issue of these unions are to become the property of the State.17
As soon as it was formed, the Communist Party had to battle these distortions and
strive to build working class women's political and industrial strength in opposition to such ruling class mobilisations. It was also constantly under fire from the State on other fronts. Censorship of books and journals, both political and non-political, fiction and non-fiction, was a constant. In 1921, the Federal Government introduced a more broadly based ban on overseas publications.18 Obscenity and sedition laws were strengthened and CPA publications regularly denied the right to be sent through the post. Then came the amendments to laws such as the Crimes Act, which were aimed directly at the activities of the Party, unions and the IWW. The 1920s persecution culminated in raids of Party premises and its printing press in 1929.
The beginning of the 1920s was so inspirational, so hopeful for coming world-wide workers revolutions. There was also a freeing up of society's strictures, the appearance of the 'New Woman', women in education, adventurers and even, in Victoria, women like Alice Anderson who ran her own garage.19 By the end of the decade, however, there was financial catastrophe, the defeat of the workers' revolution in Germany and the rise of fascism in Italy. With Stalin and his supporters entrenched in Russia, repression rather than freedom was the order of the day.
If the situation deteriorated in the late 1920s, it was only to get worse in the 1930s. Alongside the workers movement and socialist/communist groups, homosexuals and their organisations were targeted by the rising right-wing forces including many in the governments of the Western democracies. In Germany, where the biggest homosexual rights organisation existed, the Nazis quickly turned on them, burning their books, trashing their headquarters, murdering or sending them to concentration camps, or driving most of the activists into exile. This was an incalculable blow to the campaign for homosexual rights worldwide, putting out the fire before it could even start in places like Australia.
From the 1930s, the combination of censorship, Nazism and Stalinism meant that, other than in the veiled way described above through mention of books by Carpenter, Wilde and others for sale at Communist Party bookshops, homosexuality was not mentioned again in any context in the Australian socialist or communist press until 1953. Tribune first directly uses the word homosexual in an article about censorship on 1 July of that year. Referring to a report of book-burning by officials at US Consulates in Sydney and Singapore, it began: 'If you want to buy "Why Men Wear Female Clothing" or "Private Letters from Homosexuals to a Doctor" you can walk into any American bookstore and plunk down your 35 cents. But if you want to read Einstein's Theory of Relativity, Longfellow's epic poem Hiawatha, Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer . . . and many of the enduring classics, you have to hurry to the nearest incinerator – because that's where they are today'.20 Hardly the most positive supportive of references.21 The word lesbian is not mentioned until 3 August 1966, though this time in a relatively positive review of the play The Killing of Sister George.22
The 1930s began with the depression and ended in war. The 1940s started in war and ended with the use of troops against the Communist-led miners' strike of 1949, an
indication of the fact that, instead of World War II delivering freedom, most on the left found themselves, once again, more heavily repressed. The CPA was literally fighting for its life as it faced the ruling class offensive known as the Cold War. It had already been banned for a time during the War and, within a few years, faced yet another attempt. The use of laws such as the Crimes Act saw leading members jailed and the tight censorship that operated during the War and post-war years was not really lifted until the late 1960s. Censorship was particularly pernicious in Australia and was seen as amongst the most draconian in the world. In a thorough analysis, Nicole Moore describes the censors' attitude as making Australia a 'bulwark for Anglo-Saxon standards', the Empire's 'moral core' and proud to ban material freely available in London or New York. The 1950s Cold War rhetoric justified and encouraged the crackdown.23
Nonetheless, the CPA was prepared to challenge the censors, not just legally and in campaigns, but also through its cultural activities which were often banned. In the 1930s it began its Workers Art Club, later to become the New Theatre. Through the postwar decades they put on challenging plays, many written by local women Communists, and some famous overseas anti-war plays, many of which were reviewed in Tribune, often sparking a spirited debate. Writers and leading members of the Party, such as Jean Devanny and Katharine Susannah Prichard, were noted for their controversial novels that tackled issues of abortion and marriage, and in her 1935 novel, Virtuous Courtesan, Devanny included lesbian and male homosexual characters.24
More seriously for the CPA's political project, in the 1950s came the news from Russia and its satellite states of events which began to expose cracks in the Soviet edifice. First came the uprisings in Poland and, more famously, Hungary, leading to deep divisions within the CPA and mass resignations. Then, shortly after Stalin's death, came the bombshell of Khrushchev's revelations of Stalin's repressive and murderous regime. In fact, far from being dull as many describe or remember them, the 1950s proved to be just as political and sexually challenging decade as that archetypal political period of the post-war era, the 1960s.
Sexuality, although it had never entirely gone off the agenda as has been shown, was now flamboyantly displayed as the new rock-and-roll music craze hit the airwaves. Young people, called bodgies and widgies, who followed the equally flamboyant fashions, were backed by the CPA when they were censured by the press. The Party recognised that 'attempts at individual expression as a form of personal revolt against capitalism are not peculiar to this generation'. They talked of the 'lairs and larrikins' of the early 1900s who 'came good' in the fight against conscription in 1916-1917; or the 'jazz babies' of the 1920s who joined the struggles in the Depression, some becoming active socialists. They argued that the rebellious behaviour of young people in the 1950s had a legitimate cause. 'Facing our bodgie boys right now is the threat of being conscripted for up to five years under the Menzies' National Service Bill and being sent to fight America's battles "anywhere in the world"'.25
But homosexuality was still a hidden topic. Novels, plays and non-fiction with lesbian and gay content or by known homosexual writers, such as Han Suyin's Winter Love, Radclyffe Hall's Adam's Breed, Oscar Wilde's works, the poetry of Laurie Collinson and Walt Whitman continued to be listed by Tribune without once mentioning homosexuality. The paper ran a critical article about the Kinsey Report on women, having completely ignored Kinsey's earlier examination of male sexuality.
Throughout the 1960s, as the Communist Party welcomed the youth uprisings such as those in France in 1968, references to sex and, for the first time, drugs increased in its publications, and the Party started having meetings about these topics. But the word homosexual still did not appear. Instead the approach of the 1950s continued, with its oblique references recognised only by those 'in the know'. In this they lagged even behind the Church of England and debate on some of the campuses. At Melbourne University in 1964, the Debating Union considered the case for and against homosexual law reform and when the vote was taken it was 281 for, with 98 against.26
However, unlike the Churches and despite some initial resistance, the CPA did get actively involved in the new liberation movements. In 1969 it was the Women's Liberation Movement. By 1971 Gay Liberation had made it into Tribune.
Phil Carswell was one of the early Party members who argued Gay Liberation's cause. He describes a really exciting time: 'There was a bit of a shake up of the party – with greenies and poofters and mad sheilas – a general melee of change'. While most of the support came from CPA women who had been impacted by Women's Liberation, Phil believes most were not actually homophobic as they were progressive and open to challenges. 'I think what they saw was the fundamental oppression and the fundamental issues at stake here and said sure we don't particularly want to do it, but if it's an issue for you, go off and do it'. If anything it was arguing for progressive causes outside the Communist Party that activists like Phil found the going hardest.27
But the last word lies with Denis Freney, who as editor of Tribune published on 26 May 1971 the paper's first pro-Gay article, entitled 'Gay Liberation', five months before Australia's first Gay Liberation group met. Beginning with a comment about Oscar Wilde's declaration of a love that dares not speak its name, Freney could be confident that Love had truly Come of Age in Australia's Left.28


This material in this chapter is part of an ongoing project about the Australian Left and the Gay Liberation movement.
'Vigilant', 'Love's Coming of Age', Westralian Worker, 2 March, 1917, p. 2 (accessed 15 August 2010).


The quote is from Engels' Origin of the Family where he discusses what relations between people will be like under a future socialist society.


Ross's Monthly, vol. 2, no. 21, August 1917, p. 15. The monthly publication had close relations with the Victorian Socialist Party (VSP) and often ran articles by its members, while the VSP's the Socialist regularly advertised Ross's and its articles.


Gregory Carleton, Sexual Revolution in Bolshevik Russia, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005, p. 2; quote from Khanin, Carleton, Sexual Revolution in Bolshevik Russia, p. 4.


Lambrick wrote a two-part article on the times, Socialist, 17 January 1919, p. 3 and 24 January 1919, p. 2; the quote is from 24 January.


The party used the initials ACP for much of its early days, but I have used the more familiar CPA. The CPA dissolved itself in 1991, but two parties – the Communist Party and the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) – currently claim descent from the original CPA. The CPA(ML) looks to China as its socialist model.


Stuart Macintyre, The Reds, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1998, p. 104.


The Sydney-based Australian Socialist Party (ASP) played a bigger role in forming the CPA, but it had earlier dissolved itself into the CPA.


This is a controversial position on Russia which this article cannot address. I refer readers to Tony Cliff in State Capitalism in Russia, London: Pluto, 1974. Writings on this are available at the Marxist Internet Archive,, or


As quoted in Lindsay German, Material Girls: women, men and work, London: Bookmarks, 2007, p. 180 (emphasis added).


Eric J. Hobsbawm, Revolutionaries: contemporary essays, London: Quartet, 1982, pp. 216-19.


Graham Willett, 'Party Like It's 1958', MCV, no. 22, 6 August 2008, p. 53; Canberra Times, 25 August 1952, p. 4. The Law Conference argued that adult homosexuality should not be a crime.


Adelaide Advertiser, 5 September 1908, p. 5. Initially it was thought that homosexuality was rarely covered by the mainstream press, but more recent research continues to discover a richer history.


Socialist, 15 December 1906, p. 3; 22 December 1906, p. 5. Several verses of Oscar Wilde's 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' were reprinted in the Socialist, 2 February 1907, p. 4.


Socialist, 20 October 1906, p. 4. Edwards was, in fact, Australian born and had dressed as a man so successfully that she married several times. See Lucy Chesser, Parting with my Sex: cross-dressing, inversion and sexuality in Australian cultural life, Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2008.


Pankhurst in the Communist, 24 December 1920, p. 1; Morgan in the Communist, 5 August 1921, p. 6.


Meredith Anne Foley, 'The Women's Movement in NSW and Victoria, 1918-1938', PhD thesis, University of Sydney, 1985, pp. 48, 49, 57-58, 62. Available at (accessed 15 August 2010).


This was more of a blow than it may seem at first as many Australian books were actually published in the UK.


See Liz Ross, 'Flappers, Faculty and Fast Ladies', in Graham Willett, Wayne Murdoch and Daniel Marshall, eds, Secret Histories of Queer Melbourne, Parkville, Vic.: Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 2011; Georgine Clarsen, Eat My Dust, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008, pp. 104-119.


Tribune, 31 March 1953, p. 9.


There was an earlier article about child abuse: Workers Weekly, 29 June 1937, p. 3. The article accuses the Nazis of 'trumpeting the news of sexual aberrations . . . by Catholic priests' while saying nothing about Nazis imprisoned for 'acts of immorality with young children'.


RM, 'Sniggers for Sister George', Tribune, 3 August 1966.

23; Nicole Moore Secrets of the Censors: obscenity in the Archives, (accessed 15 August 2010).


I cannot do justice here to the great contribution by CPA writers, especially the women, to literature and theatre and the breaking with the restrictive stereotypes in the period from 1930s through to the 1960s. See Carole Ferrier, Jean Devanny: romantic revolutionary, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1999, and Michelle Arrow, Upstaged: women dramatists in the limelight at last, Strawberry Hills, NSW: Currency Press, 2002, for their excellent coverage. I will be dealing with this period in much more detail in a forthcoming book.


Tribune, 22 February 1951, p. 6.


Graham Willett, Living Out Loud: a history of Gay and Lesbian activism in Australia. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2000, p. 23. It was also reported in the Australian.


Phil Carswell, Australian Lesbian and Gay Archive, Tape no. 251 (Brisbane, 11 July 1996). Phil notes that he would not use the term 'mad sheilas' today and has nothing but praise for his CPA sisters and comrades.


Tribune, 26 May 1971, p. 6.