Greg Callaghan reflects on hate homosexual murders in new Bondi Badlands podcast

Bondi Badlands – new podcast on real crime launched Friday – plunges headfirst into the wave of hate crimes and gay murders that marred Sydney between the late 80s and early 90s and left the community living in fear. This is a five-part series of The Sydney Morning Herald and Age, chaired by the deputy editor-in-chief of Have a nice week end Greg Callaghan.

Callaghan said Star Watcher that the wave of anti-gay crime that swept through Sydney in the late ’80s and early’ 90s had always fascinated him.

“There was a level of violence all over Sydney that was unprecedented. As I revisited it through the podcast, it really struck me that the scale of the violence was simply staggering. The murders were part of it, and worst of all, but they were just the tip of the iceberg, ”Callaghan said.

Blooming Sydney Gay Scene

Some of the victims of the wave of gay hate crimes in Sydney.

“The community on stage for the first time had an unprecedented profile, the gay bars of Oxford Street that were once tucked away suddenly came to life in the 1980s. Of course, this flourishing of the gay scene coincided with the tragedy. of the AIDS epidemic.

Over the past four decades, there have been at least 88 murders of gay and transgender people in Sydney, and 30 cases remain unresolved.

“When you talk to people of a certain age, they just remember that there was violence everywhere. It didn’t happen all the time, but there was a real problem and a real problem, ”Callaghan said.

“In the early 2000s, when I worked at News LTD, I went to coroner’s court. It was around 2003 that Jacqueline Milledge was the Deputy State Coroner.

“Milledge reviewed the cases and two years later the findings of the police investigation were hushed up.”

Arrests after three decades

scott johnson gay hate crimes

Scott Johnson.

Of course, Callaghan is no stranger to these crimes, having published a critically acclaimed book of the same name as the podcast in 2007.

“I wrote Bondi Badlands at the same time, and it was released a few years later. I thought it would be it, but I was surprised at the level of interest that bubbled up a few years later and continued.

Callaghan adds that while the book focuses on the Bondi murders, it also takes a look at “the larger situation in Sydney”.

The most recent development in these cases has seen the Scott Phillip White arrested last year in connection with the homosexual murder of the visiting American mathematician Scott Johnson.

With Johnson’s body found naked at the foot of the cliffs of Blue Fish Point in 1988, the last episode of Bondi Badlands deal with this matter head-on. According to Callaghan, “there are a number of reasons these arrests are taking place now.”

“The LGTQI community, we do not let go, if we see injustice, we stand up and take care of our own. What accompanied that [attitude] is a greater social maturity and a greater interest in social justice, and there has also been a radical change in social attitudes.

“Mourning never goes away”

The view south of Marks Park, which is the site of the Bondi Memorial to honor the victims and survivors of homophobia and transphobic violence. Image: Council of Waverley.

In an attempt to humanize the experience of those still touched by this dark chapter in the history of Sydney and LGBTQI communities, Callaghan used their voices and stories in The Bondi Badlands.

“What we tried to do in the podcast is step into the shoes of the people involved and show them as human beings through the voices of their friends and family, to empower the victims. through their friends and family.

“Unless it happens to you directly, you don’t understand. When you lose someone, you don’t forget them, they stay with you. In the podcast you can hear [a] couple of friends and family of the victims, the real emotions return, as they speak of these people, and they are still fresh in their memory.

“One of John Russel’s relatives spoke forcefully about how grief never goes away. A lot of things are pretty crude even now.

To some listeners this period may seem so long ago, however, as Callaghan reminds us, “we are discussing a time that was only about 30 years ago.”

“I think it’s really important for young people to realize that it was not that long ago. The other thing these crimes remind us of is that social change doesn’t always go in a positive direction, sometimes things can take a step back.

“We live in a society that has matured and become more tolerant, but we have to keep that, not take it for granted.”

You can listen Bondi Badlands Going through Apple podcasts, with new episodes airing every Friday in October.

About Larry Struck

Larry Struck

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