I'd been discharged from the defence only one year. The paranoia towards homosexuality reached a level whereby if you played cards with mates all of you were required to keep one foot on the floor. And that's an order.! We lived in an era of cowards bashing gays any chance they got. I didn't but I laughed with them. Just as guilty.
Then at a freight company in Melbourne 1977 I worked alongside "Rick". He was a singer in a band, to me he was outrageously gay and curiously loved by any female he met. That bit I was jealous of.
I owned a convertible car and gave Rick a lift home one night. Driving through Footscray he turned the volume up of the song Crocodile Rock as he stood up and sang the song. He was hilarious... He was drugged and he was sad. I was admittedly homophobic. I had been programmed.
Rick related to the gay movement in Sydney so folded his band and left work.
About six months later there was a protest march on TV news. At the front of the group was " Rick" chanting "gay rights- now".
Ricks mother visited our company a short time later informing us that Rick had overdosed on drugs. He was 25yo. He was found with a note in a dark alley, alone and penniless. The women in our office told me much more about the Rick I didn't know. He volunteered for soup kitchens, loved his nephews 3&4yo and adored jewellery. Suddenly any homophobia left in me vanished.
I am often reminded of Rick. Even early 2015 TV had a flashback of the early days of the Mardi gras and subsequent clashes with police and up comes that clip with Rick leading the charge.
Rick is immortal thanks to TV. And its sad. We have bronze statues of Lords, architects, adventurers and busts of politicians but none of heroes like Rick.
Rev Martin Luther King made one of the greatest speeches if all time " I have a dream". I remember a photo taken of 3 black children holding hands against the spray of a water cannon. It took scenes like that for change.
The gay protedt movement towards basic rights, the rights the straight community has always enjoyed...has been going too long.
Too long because society in all its glory hasn't taken that one final leap to allow this minority but large group, rights it should have automatically.