Vale Kendall Lovett

Ken Lovett (second from the right) in 1985 holding a banner he helped create. Photo: The Tribune

Kendall Lovett passed away on October 21. He was 98.

Ken was a founding member of the Gay Solidarity Group/Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Residents of Woolloomooloo Action Group, Sydney Park AIDS (SPAIDS) memorial grove project, Gay Liberation, Gaywaves Radio Program, Gay Radio Information New Service, Gay Community News and many other projects and groups.

Ken was in the thick of many political and cultural projects and struggles. He lent his fine pen and sign-writing skills to help create innumerable posters, flyers, protest pinafores and banners — an example of which can be found in the photo illustrating this obituary.

Ken was one of the loveliest people I’ve had the fortune to know: he was a true gentle man.

When I first met Ken, he and Mannie De Saxe were involved in lobbying Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology to maintain the Fairfield Aids Memorial Garden that the TAFE had inherited when it took over the former Fairfield hospital site.

Although only occasionally attending rallies by that time, Ken kept up letter writing and lobbying work around gay and lesbian rights, seniors’ issues, environmental causes and more, pretty much up until the end.

I enjoyed hearing his memories of growing up, and of gay life, from the 1940s onwards.

Gay Solidarity Group/Lesbian Gay Solidarity lived up to their name and, for decades, Ken attended rallies for just about progressive issue imaginable, always with a banner and always out and proud.

He helped organise support for prisoners in Australia and abroad, supported Australia’s first transgender protest in 1982, was a core part of the Gays Against the Bicentenary contingent in 1988, and was canonised by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in 1985 as “Saint Kendall the Constant”.

Ken shared many stories of cheeky and funny actions, including attending a counter-demo against anti-abortionists in 1978 where he carried cardboard cut-outs of friends who couldn’t be there. They were subsequently trashed when he and many others were arrested.

In the 1980s, Ken was one of a group of radicals who registered themselves as the Moral Majority ahead of a visit from homophobic, right-wing United States evangelist Jerry Falwell.

They put out various pro-LGBTIQ, pro-choice and other press releases, stickers and T-shirts under the official name.

Ken lived an incredibly full life, some of which is documented on his and Mannie’s website.

Condolences to Mannie De Saxe and all other people who knew and loved Ken.