On This Gay Day: Bob Brown was elected to federal parliament

Bob Brown became the first openly gay politician in Australia’s federal parliament

Australian went to the polls on 2nd March 1996 bringing an end to to the Keating Labor government and bringing John Howard to power. The Hawke-Keating government has been in power for five terms since 1983.

Elected to the parliament on that day was Tasmanian politician Bob Brown who would go on to become one of the loudest critics of the Howard government. Brown had previously been a member of the Tasmanian State government and was a well know environmental advocate. Brown was a founding member of The Greens political party.

Brown was the first openly gay person in the Australian parliament, and the first party leader who was gay. Brown was re-elected several times until he announced his retirement on 13th April 2012. His last day in parliament was 15th June 2012. Since leaving parliament Brown has continued to be an environmental advocate, setting up the Bob Brown Foundation with his long term partner Paul Thomas.

Dusty Springfield died on this day in 1999

Singer Dusty Springfield died on this day in 1999 following a battle with breast cancer. Two weeks after her death she was indicted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The British singer had huge hits in the 60s and is remembered for her massive blonde bouffant hair and massive amounts of dark eyeliner, but beneath it all was an amazing singer.

She had stacks of hits including I Only Wanna Be With You, Son of a Preacher Man, I Just Don’t Know What to do with Myself, Breakfast in Bed and Wishin’ and Hopin’. Her 1969 album Dusty in Memphis has often been listed as one of the greatest records of all time. In the 1990s her songs were regularly sampled by trip-hop artists.

In the late 1980’s Dusty’s career got a big revival when she teamed up with the Pet Shop Boys on their track What Have I Done to Deserve This. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe wrote several tracks for her next album including In Private and Nothing Has Been Proved.

Dusty Springfield was open about her sexuality, even making bold statements about happily being gay in the early 1970s. At this time there were very few openly gay artists. Springfield has been seen as blueprint for many British singers who followed in her footsteps including Amy Winehouse, Adele, Paloma Faith, Duffy and Rumer.

OIP Staff, this post was first published in 2021.

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