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Sydney Pride Centre launched the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial in Green Park, Sydney, on 27 February 2001.
The original items on our web pages were provided by a link to the Sydney Pride Centre Web Pages relating to the launch, but that web site has disappeared, and we are trying to replace it with a reconstituted set of documents gathered together to provide a historical record of the events of that date.
We have also contacted the photographer who was at the launch and who took many photos, but unfortunately he has not responded to our requests, so we will have to make do with what we have been able to obtain from other sources.Marcus Einfeld's Dedication Speech at the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial, Green Park, Sydney, 27 February 2001
The Sydney Star Observer carried the following report in its edition number 548 on 1 March 2001. It should be noted that the final paragraph stated that Pride had received custodianship of the memorial, with the honour being accepted by Pride president Lou Anne Lind. Pride published the launch on a web site which has now vanished. Whether their custodianship has vanished as well is another issue. Who is now maintaining the Memorial?
We are attempting to replace the original Pride web site with a reconstructed one, but so far have had no assistance in the matter, either from Sydney Pride or the photographer who apparently took many photos at the launch.
The Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial celebrates the memory of all gay men and lesbian women murdered, tortured or persecuted because of their sexuality. It was opened on 27 February 2001 and dedicated to the custodianship of the Sydney PRIDE Centre.
The realisation of the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial has been achieved through community donations collected by the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial Project Incorporated and funding provided by South Sydney City Council.
A Sacred Place
Memorials are places, sacred and powerful places where loss surfaces and sorrow and pain is made manifest. Standing there, we understand that this is the place to leave our tears. We may visit to remember someone we know, or we may come to remember the day when our own lives changed forever, that day when we felt that we lost our selves. By our presence though, we know that we honour our grief and as we reach out to touch a memorial, leave a flower or speak a few quiet words, we know we too are honoured.
There may be times too, when as a sacred place, we come to mark a special time in our lives. These are the times of our choosing, times when our celebration is given added power by our proximity to this icon of our identity.
Whether we come in joy or sorrow, or to make a political point, we know there is a special place set aside for the past, the future, the present, for us, with pride.
The Design and Meaning of the Memorial
The Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial has been designed by Russell Rodrigo and Jennifer Gamble who are also the designers of the NSW Police Memorial, located near the Art Gallery of NSW.
The Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial occupies Stonewall Gardens, a triangular platform in Green Park, facing Darlinghurst Road.
This beautiful iconic memorial draws from the symbols originating in the Holocaust. The pink triangle, used to identify male homosexual prisoners in Nazi Germany, is transformed into a glowing pink triangular prism. The black triangle, the symbol used to identify lesbian women appears here, translated into a triangular grid of black steel columns intersecting the prism. The two triangles appear as a fractured Star of David.
The black columns stand as sentinels; symbols of individual resilience and strength. The crystalline pink prism with its text of, and archival image from, the Holocaust reinforces the need for that strength. During the day, the glass surface reflects its surroundings, the past and the present becoming one. At night, the image glows softly, a symbol of hope and the life within and beyond.
The significance of this particular Memorial will not become evident for some time.
To the best of our knowledge, there are only eight memorials in existence specifically commemorating gay men and lesbian women killed and tortured during the Holocaust. Five of these are situated in Germany, two of these within concentration camps. The most publicised memorial is the Homomonument designed by Karin Daan in Amsterdam. Only one of the eight memorials is situated outside Europe: in New York, at the Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the world’s largest gay and lesbian synagogue.
Each of the existing memorials carries with it the context in which it is situated; for the most part, this context is almost exclusively strongly associated with the Holocaust by proximity to prison camps or the sites of Nazi occupation and atrocities. The sacred quality of these memorials engenders solemn responses by those visiting; to respond in any other way would be construed as inappropriate or profane.
The uniqueness of the background to the Gay and Lesbian Memorial in Sydney is that the historical scars are slightly removed because of our situation on the globe.
The proximity to the Jewish Museum and the textual and pictorial imagery used will ensure this space never loses its reverential and memorial quality. The location near Oxford Street will assist in a reading of this Memorial allowing for events of joyful celebration to be staged here without fearing the sacredness will be destroyed. Indeed it is anticipated this multiple layering will increase its importance.
For the same reasons, the use of the Gay and Lesbian Memorial for political purposes in keeping with the agenda of shedding light and hope will not detract from the sacredness of the space. If anyone suggests this memorial panders to the culture of victimology, they are very much mistaken. This is not a place where the past is bemoaned and inequalities are accepted as a fait accompli. This memorial space is an indication that the gay and lesbian community is part of the rest of the world, that we do not live in isolation and that we are prepared to symbolically claim space which is both historical, contemporary, and forward looking.
It is this potential for multiple use of the Gay and Lesbian Memorial in Sydney which sets it apart from others around the world. Its potential for iconic status as a symbol of the community may mean it is the most utilised memorial of its kind.
The Gay and Lesbian memorial thus stands as a reminder to us of past injustices, and as an inspiration to us all to fight for that justice which is still to be gained.
Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial is located in Green Park in the inner Eastern suburb of Darlinghurst, across the street from the Jewish Museum.
Green Park is located on Burton Street, between Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street.
GETTING THERE: Catch a bus up Oxford Street from the City or take a 5 minute walk from Kings Cross Station down Darlinghurst Road.
The Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial Project was founded by a group of community activists. Over the years they raised funds and decided, with South Sydney City Council, on the site at Green Park in Darlinghurst. Darlinghurst is considered the heart of Sydney's gay and lesbian population. Green Park is adjacent to the Jewish Museum which ensures that the memorial retains its historic meaning.
The memorial was constructed over a period of months in 2000.
The Memorial dedication ceremony occurred on Tuesday 27 February 2001, when the Memorial was handed over to the custodianship of The Sydney Pride Centre. Speakers at the dedication included:
GAY AND LESBIAN HOLOCAUST MONUMENT - PART 1: SHORT CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY AND PHOTOS TAKEN BY KEN LOVETT
GAY AND LESBIAN HOLOCAUST MONUMENT - PART 3: LAUNCH PHOTOS 27 FEBRUARY 2001
LESBIAN & GAY SOLIDARITY PAGE
Mannie has a personal web site: RED JOS: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM
Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:
MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)
Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009
RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)
This page updated 17 MAY 2014 and again on 23 NOVEMBER 2016