On This Gay Day: Remembering Sue Ravine

Today we remember a member of our community that we lost on this day in 2011. When Sue Ravine died nine years ago, this how she was remembered in OUTinPerth.

Sue Ravine passed away peacefully on Sunday, 30 January, after a very determined five-year battle with ovarian cancer. Although Sue was a quiet and very private person, she made an enormous contribution to many causes away from the limelight and behind lighting desks and other machinery.

Sue was one of the 12 founding committee members at the inauguration of what was then Lesbian and Gay Pride WA, in 1993, and a volunteer of legendary dedication for many years afterwards.

Prior to her involvement with Pride, Sue had a long history of passionate activism, including as one of the protesters at the renowned Sound Women’s Peace Camp at Garden Island in 1984.

Sue first took an interest in Pride as a clean-up volunteer for its first independent post-parade party in 1992. She was soon honing the skills that made her an indispensable cog in the party sub-committee for many years and a fountain of immense knowledge on how to run a great event.

One of Sue’s most memorable exploits, for those involved in Pride at the time, was taking on some gatecrashers at the 1995 Money Street post-parade party. When a still-notorious Northbridge identity turned up with his posse of hangers-on, demanding to be allowed in for free and threatening violence, Sue challenged him when even the local constabulary went weak at the knees at the mention of his name.

Sue’s handiwork and distinctive handwriting could be found for many issues in the long-running women’s monthly newsletter, Grapevine. For some years in the days before affordable A3 laser printers, Sue also did the paste-up at Perth’s then gay and lesbian newspaper, The Westside Observer, working through the night to get the paper to print on time.

After a few visits to Sydney for Mardi Gras, Sue was inspired to take up lighting design at the WA Academy of Performing Arts, where she was a star pupil. Those who attended the legendary Pride parties staged from the mid-Nineties to the early Noughties were treated to some of her magical lighting designs. She later went on to work the lights at Connections as well as concerts and theatre productions big and small.

After her diagnosis, while working for the Perth International Arts Festival in 2006, Sue retired to spend her remaining time with her adored animals at her much-loved home in Rivervale.

Late last year Sue re-entered our lives, when her sister Anya contacted OUTinPerth and shared that she was looking for a useful way to put Sue’s considerable record collection to good use.

Anya was in the process of moving from Perth to Sydney to take up a new role and felt that three crates of vinyl deserved more than being locked in storage. At the time we weren’t sure what that use might be, a few ideas were brainstormed, but we came to the conclusion that a good use would appear.

A huge lover of music Sue’s record collection contains many classic 12 inches of house tunes, among the 309 records in the collection are well known songs from Neneh Cherry, Salt ‘n Pepa, Deelite, Betty Boo and Stereo MCs.

Amongst these chart toppers, there’s also rare Australian techno records, and much sought after feminist recordings. There’s some obscure jazz and blues records, and one punk record that collectors have been known to pay over $100 for.

There’s all a collection of notebooks where Sue has listed playlists, and the BPM’s of tunes, and comments on individual records.

In 2020 the collection was used by DJ Holiday Pete who provided the soundtrack to Transmission At PICA. Pete used the record collection as a source of inspiration to recreate a 90’s dance party for Janet Carter’s work that celebrated community, connections and shared history.

At the beginning of Pride 2020 the team from RTRFM’s All Things Queer took over the late night spot on the community radio station and played Sue’s music for three hours.

Graeme Watson, this post was first published on 30th January 2020, and was updated in 2021. 

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