A spotlight is being shined on LGBT rights — or, more accurately, the historic lack thereof — in the Australian state of Queensland. The beam is in the form of an upcoming book, North of the Border, by cross-media storyteller and documentary photographer Heather Faulkner. The book builds on Faulkner’s doctoral thesis research project, A Matter Of Time, and through six years of interviews and photography, tells the stories of eight lesbians who grew up in Queensland. The women range in age from their mid-50s to 70s.
“I want older lesbian and gay readers to know that their stories are important,” she told The Huffington Post. “That what they lived through matters.”
Faulkner realized that no one had investigated the Queensland lesbian experience before, especially not in a documentary. “So I decided to do it,” she said.
She describes a Queensland under the rule of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen (the longest serving premier of Queensland) from 1968 to 1987 as an ultra-conservative state where women’s rights were minimal. Domestic violence was rife and women needed male signatories to purchase things like refrigerators or to get a bank loan; indigenous rights, homosexual rights, education, disability rights, environmental rights, etc. all needed redressing.
“Those who didn’t fit the government-prescribed norm — straight, white, married with children, Christian and conservative politically — didn’t fit in at all. This included feminists, homosexuals, aboriginals, academics, environmentalists, unmarried women or single moms,” Faulkner said. “The government made demonstrations illegal, a policy that resulted in several mass arrests … known demonstrators were ostracized from work places, spied on, bullied or beaten by police,” she describes.