Lost Gay SydneySince Jason Dann and Jon Fabian started the Lost Gay Sydney Facebook group page, 1000s of Sydney’s LGBT families have jumped online to share their memories of Sydney’s Queer scene in the 70s, 80s, 90s and noughties.

The page gathered a few hundred members within hours of its launch and has now close to 5000 members, and has spawned follow-up pages on Melbourne, Adelaide, Newcastle and Brisbane’s LGBT scene.

Dann took time to answer our questions on why he started the page, what he hopes to achieve from it and what it’s like reading all those trips down memory lane…

How, why and when did Lost Gay Sydney come about?

The group started just over three weeks ago. My mate Jon Fabian started Lost Sydney back in April this year which is a group “ In praise of a city that exists in collective memories”, and it quickly grew very popular with people posting a lot of 60’s & 70’s images of a HUGE variety – Sydney iconic buildings, eyesores,  drive-ins, Royal Easter Show, the demise of the Anthony Hordern building & The Regent Theatre but everything was ALL so familiar and struck a kind of ‘warm’ chord. When I saw a few pics of Oxford St like French’s Tavern & The Albury pop up, it triggered something, and I ran it by Jon if perhaps we could start a sister group –  Lost ‘GAY’ Sydney to focus on the HUGE sub-culture that Sydney has always been (even internationally) renowned for.

Who is the team behind LGS?

Jason Dann – 49 from Newtown  and  Jon Fabian – early 50’s from North Shore

How many members are now in the group?

Last week it hit 4000 members with about 100 new requests each day,. It had a big surge this week when the girls started posting!

How surprised have you been with the response?

Extremely surprised! Honestly, we would have been happy to match the 1350 members that Lost Sydney generated eventually, but in just three weeks, it has done way over double that and heading toward tripling it in just a month.

(it was like 116 ‘adds’ in a few hours, then a few hundred by the next day mid-morning,  over 1000 by the end of the week, so I realized it had hit a nerve or something that people either consciously or unconsciously wanted to re-visit and re-discover).

What have been some of the best things that have surfaced in the group so far?

As you can imagine, I have received a lot of feedback via email with comments:

“I love this walk down memory lane, but I’ve got to say I am learning for the first time about a few of the people in those memories no longer being with us… my tears of laughter and joy are also falling for those I never got to say goodbye to”.

“ It’s been wonderful to connect with people, some of whom live overseas and have been almost impossible to track down.”

“Sharing Mardi Gras moments, clippings from old papers, ads for bars long forgotten, legendary dance parties, photos of nights that are filed in my ‘ best’ memories and photos that shared my youth. It’s lovely to see people post comments that reconnect them with old friends and acquaintances, triggered by some image of 30 years old.

“The tears! Photos of many guys taken in their beautiful youth to HIV and AIDS. I’ve stopped and thought of that long period in the late 80s and 90s and how we ever coped.”

“I saw a post from the great Cindy Pastel that struck a chord; he said – “I will take away a fort of sheer bliss knowing all you beautiful people are having fun re-earthing your past and enjoying it… We are all on the same page here…and it doesn’t cost to get in…and no labels needed…a time when FUN was a word we didn’t know how to spell x; it’s the best X, thank you…is everybody happy?”

 With such a big response to the group, what do you think this says about the community’s connection with Sydney’s gay history?

There has been a lot of banter about this subject in the group. One comment triggered over 100 comments about why people think Sydney Gay’s ‘Nightlife’ was better back then. Then someone said it’s still there but just a little more hidden, to which a reply of “I don’t particularly want to go hunting for it when it used to be out there”.

Then there is how the internet/Grinder/online dating etc. has changed everything, and you don’t need to go out to the bars to meet people anymore. The fact that everything is so PC now with restrictions such as security guards and dogs at parties and clubs.

So I think mainly our older community have a BIG sentimental connection with the innocent culture of gay Sydney of old, in both the pre-AIDS epidemic days and, of course, Sydney during the AIDS epidemic and so many old friends lost. There are many posts of men and boys with the tag ‘missed’…

Someone posted that there was a price to pay for the acceptance; we were once the innocent minority in the closet.

It’s generated some excellent thought perspectives.

Where to now for the group?

Comments on the group people are throwing around are a Dance Party…  An Exhibition of pictures at Tap Gallery…  Afloat in next year’s parade featuring some iconic float entrants that are perhaps still in existence…