‘Forever Grateful To The 78ers’: How LGBTIQ Aussies Reacted To ‘Riot’


Queer viewers have paid emotional tribute to Australia’s pioneering Mardi Gras protesters “the ’78ers,” depicted in the ABC’s TV movie Riot on Sunday night.

The movie follows some of the key figures, including Lance Gowland and Marg McMann, who were part of Sydney’s first gay rights activist group CAMP (Campaign Against Moral Persecution) NSW and the landmark protest on June 24, 1978 that would go on to become the modern Mardi Gras.

That year, as the push to decriminalize homosexuality had seemingly stalled, the activists agreed to hold a celebratory Mardi Gras parade in a bid to garner public support for their cause.

The movie reacreates that fateful march, which was violently broken up by police and saw 53 of the marchers arrested, beaten and publicly shamed.

One 78er, author and broadcaster Julie McCrossin, shared photos and memorabilia from the event on Twitter during the movie, as others offered their thanks to the activists.

“Heading into Mardis Gras 40th year it’s more important than ever to know our history. Unspeakable respect for the 78ers,” one person tweeted.

Another wrote, “Never forget that our struggle didn’t start with rights, or marriage, or anti-discrimination. It started with just wanting to be able to walk through the streets without the fear of having the crap beaten out of us.”

Riot will be available to watch on ABC iView for the next month.