On This Gay Day: ‘Holding the Man’ author Tim Conigrave died

Tim Conigrave’s memoir ‘Holding the Man’ captured the impact of HIV on Australia in the 1980s

On this day in 1994 actor and writer Timothy Conigrave passed away from AIDS related illnesses just four months before his award-winning memoir, Holding the Man was published.

The memoir became widely acclaimed as queer literature since its publication in 1995. At its centre is the love story between Tim Conigrave and John Caleo.

Conigrave and Caleo met as high school students at Xavier College, an all boys’ school. Caleo was captain of the football team, hence the book’s title. In AFL, the practice of “holding the man” is a transgression and incurs a penalty. The pair, throughout youthful experimentation, geographical relocation and parental opposition, maintain the relationship. Their romance is tragically cut short after, in 1985, they are diagnosed with HIV.

The memoir has become widely known for its frank portrayal of same sex love and the devastation of HIV at a time when discrimination remained widespread and the disease was highly stigmatized and little understood.

Conigrave was an actor and theatre maker who trained at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. He toured Australia performing in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, and his memoir incudes a section where he recalls visiting Connections Nightclub in Perth, walking up the stairs to the venue.

As a playwright he created several works Thieving BoyLike Stars in your Hands and The Blitz Kids.

Holding the Man has been published around the world. It won the 1995 United Nations Human Rights Award for Non Fiction, and was named one of the Australian Society of Authors’ 100 Favourite Australian books in 2003.

The book has been adapted into a play by Tommy Murphy. Its debut by Sydney’s Griffin Theatre Company in 2006 was highly critically acclaimed, and became the highest-grossing production in the company’s 30-year history.

Since then, the play has been perfomred around Australia. It has also been performed in Los Angeles, San Francisco and London’s West End. The London production starred well known Australian actors Jane Turner and Simon Burke.

In 2015 the film version of  Holding the Man was released. It starred Ryan Corr and Craig Stott as Tim and John, and was directed by  Neil Armfield.  The documentary Remembering the Man, which came out the following year, told more of Tim and John’s story.

Conigrave did not live to see his work achieve acclaim, dying before the book’s publication.  John Caleo died on Australia Day, 26 January 1992, aged 31. Tim Conigrave died on 18 October 1994, aged 34.

Martina Navratilova celebrates her birthday

Tennis champion Martina Navratilova celebrates her birthday today. Born in Prague in Czechoslovakia 1956, she turns 65 years old today.

Considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Navratilova won 16 Grand Slam titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles, and 10 major mixed doubles titles. She won the Wimbledon Women’s Single Title a record nine times.

In 1975 at the age of 18 she asked the United States for political asylum from her home which was under communist rule. She became a US citizen in 1981. In 2008 she regained her Czech citizenship, but said she had no plans to renounce her US citizenship.

In 1981 during an interview with the the New York Daily news she spoke about her bisexuality, revealing she had been in a relationship with author Rita May Brown. Navratilova had asked the journalist not to publish the information until she publicly came out, but the newspaper printed the information against her wishes.

In later years Navratilova has described herself as a lesbian. In September 2014 at the US Open she proposed to her longtime girlfriend Julia Lemigova, the couple wed a few months later.

Navratilova has been an activist in the area of gay rights, as well as speaking out about animal rights and underprivileged children.

In 1990 three men were convicted of a plot to blow up a gay disco in Idaho

In 1990 three white supremacists were convicted of plotting to blow up Neighbourhood Disco, a gay venue in Boise, Idaho.

Robert John Winslow, Stephen Nelson, and Procter Baker were all members of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations based in Hayden Lakes, North Idaho.

A jury found all three guilty of conspiracy and manufacturing and possessing pipe bombs. While Nelson and Winslow were convicted of additional charges of using interstate commerce in a conspiracy and possessing firearms in commission of a violent crime.

Their plot was uncovered by an FBI informant who had been paid to infiltrate the group.

In January 1991  U.S. District Judge Harold Ryan ordered Winslow, 29, to nine years and a $3,500 fine, Nelson, 35, to eight years and 150 hours of community service, and Baker, 58, to two years, 150 hours of community service and a $7,500 fine.

Tyler Posey was born on this day in 1991

Star of the TV series Teen Wolf, actor Tyler Posey was born on this day in 1991.

After making appearances in many TV shows including Without a Trace, Smallville, Brothers & Sisters, Posey got his big break with the TV adaptation of Teen Wolf in 2011.  The show ran for six seasons before wrapping up in 2017.

In a recent interview Posey described himself as queer and sexually fluid.

Graeme Watson, Sophie Joske


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