‘The door’ and queer sexuality in public space – see who is speaking 

Boola Bardip WA Museum have announced the speakers for their upcoming conversation event ‘The door’ and queer sexuality in public space. 

The museum is set to host a panel discussion sparked by one of the more interesting artifacts in their collection – a public toilet door with a glory hole.

The acquisition of the door from a public toilet in Gosnells raised some eyebrows back in 2018 when the Museum added it to their collection of objects that capture parts of our Western Australian lives.

The door was donated to the museum by local activist group The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The door was originally located in public toilets near the Gosnells train station. When the building was demolished in 1997 it was ‘rescued’ by Neil Buckley, who is also known as Mother Greta when in habit.

Back before social media apps, and before homosexuality was legal in Western Australia, gay men would meet up at ‘beats’, spots known for cruising and sexual behaviour. Public bathrooms, parks and secluded spaces were often well know by the queer community.

When the door was first donated the Shadow Minister for the Arts said it was “too tacky to display”. The public outcry led to an art exhibition the following year that explored the themes of sexualised spaces.

On 9th March the Museum will present a panel discussion the challenges of displaying unusual items and to discuss the extent to which queer identity has been desexualised to be made palatable in the dominant culture, and what work needs to be done to recalibrate public collections so that they equitably represent the breadth of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

Speaking at the event will be Neil Buckley, the original owner and donor of the door to the Museum. He is a long-time community champion in WA and beyond having served as a board member for Pride WA, WAAC, and currently sits on the Committee of Residents and Tenants (CORT) for Foundation Housing.

Neil was involved in ACT UP at the beginning of the AIDS pandemic and has had an active role in trying to reduce the stigma around HIV that is still in our community today. He has been a prominent advocate for the Expungement of Gay Historical Convictions and successfully petitioned the WA Parliament to support a Bill for the expungement of Historical gay convictions.

Neil is also known as The Blessed Mother Gretta Amylleta of the Holy Vapors, of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a charity, protest, and street performance organisation that uses religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and satirizes issues of gender and morality.

Jo Darbyshire will also be there. Darbyshire is a West Australian artist and social history curator. In 2003, just after Gay Law Reform was passed in WA, Jo worked as artist-in-residence at the WA Museum to create one of the first exhibitions to ‘Queer a Museum’- The Gay Museumthe history of lesbian and gay presence in WA.

By researching and including local community stories and something from every department in the museum; by using strategies from the visual arts and above all humour; the exhibition questioned the prevailing hetero-normative paradigm in museum collections and the assumption that ‘everything was straight until proven otherwise’.

Professor Braden Hill, Deputy Vice Chancellor Students, Equity and Indigenous at Edith Cowan University will also join the panel. Hill is a Noongar (Wardandi) man from the south-west of Western Australia He is also proudly part of Perth’s LGBTQIA+ community.  Professor Hill’s research interests include Indigenous education, identity politics, queer identities in education and transformative learning.

He was also chief investigator on a national first project exploring the lived experiences of Indigenous LGBTQI people to better inform community health organisations in their working with queer-identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Facilitating the discussion will be Dr Lauren Butterly who is a legal academic and lawyer. Lauren’s nationally award-winning PhD tells a story of the legal history of the Northern Territory. However, her first intellectual love, and first university degree, was in Western Australian history.

Alongside her legal career, Lauren is a casual weekends radio presenter on ABC Radio and co-president of Perth’s LGBTIQ running club, the Perth Frontrunners.

The talk is being held on Thursday 9 March, 6.30pm – 9.00pm Tickets are on sale now.

OIP Staff

Declaration: OUTinPerth editor Graeme Watson is employed by Edith Cowan University. 

You can support our work by subscribing to our Patreon
or contributing to our GoFundMe campaign.