Landmark exhibition honours LGBTIQA+ veterans

For former servicepeople who did not see a place for themselves in the armed forces, this celebration of their stories at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance is life-changing.

When five proud members of the Gay Ex-Services Association climbed the steps of Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance on Anzac Day in 1982, hoping to lay a wreath in honour of ‘all our brothers and sisters who died during the wars,’ they were cruelly turned away at the behest of then Victorian RSL President Bruce Ruxton. It’s a dark stain on the war memorial’s history that curator Kate Spinks hopes will be further dispelled by the opening of a new exhibition this week.

Defending with Pride: Stories of LGBTQ+ Service marks the first time an Australian war memorial has centred the stories of queer members of the armed forces.

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Stephen A Russell is a Melbourne-based arts writer. His writing regularly appears in Fairfax publications, SBS online, Flicks, Time Out, The Saturday Paper, The Big Issue and Metro magazine. You can hear him on Joy FM.