By Sally Low
SYDNEY — From Friday July 12 to Sunday July 14 women from all round Australia will gather here to attend a National Lesbian Conference at the University of Technology. Clare Gallagher from the organising committee hopes that up to a thousand lesbians will attend. A separately organised lesbian festival, the highlight of which will be a concert in the Opera House, will run July 6-15.
Clare told Green Left that the idea for a Sydney conference arose at a similar event in Melbourne over the Invasion Day weekend last year.
"One of the first things we tried to do", she said, "was work out aims and objectives. We called a public meeting last year." From that meeting came four major aims: exploring the politics of women as lesbians, celebrating women as lesbians, strengthening lesbian culture and diversity and being aware of different cultural backgrounds.
An overall conference theme, Clare explained, will be "living as lesbians, strengthening our culture".
"Ideas for workshops are pouring in at the moment. It's too early to say if there is any particular issue emerging. Closer to the event, we plan to look at the topics and perhaps think about what else needs to be covered."
Clare said that differences between lesbians from varying cultural, ethnic and class backgrounds are more evident in cities such as Sydney, where there is a large lesbian population and "there is room for very different elements of the community to be highly visible. I think that is a very good thing. But it is a bit different in, say, Adelaide or Perth, where the lesbian community is much smaller and so the primary identification tends to be as a lesbian."
There are several groups organising different aspects of the conference; they all meet at different times and places, so it is easy to get involved. Anyone interested can phone the conference office on 660 5831 or write to PO Box 503, Glebe NSW 2037.