A group of elderly lesbians in Victoria are planning a mass holding of hands on a tram ride from the Melbourne CBD to St Kilda to celebrate lesbian history and resistance.
‘Hold Hands on a Tram’ is part of the Victorian Seniors Festival and will commemorate the arrest of two lesbians who were convicted for holding hands on a tram in 1976.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews mentioned the incident in his 2016 apology for the government’s historical treatment of the gay community.
“I learnt that two women were convicted for offensive behaviour in the 1970s for holding hands – on a tram,” he said in his speech.
He continued: “If you are a member of the LGBTI community, and there’s someone in your life that you love – a partner or a friend – then do me a favour:
“Next time you’re on a tram in Melbourne, hold their hand. Do it with pride and defiance. Because you have that freedom.”
The project is taking inspiration from Andrews' speech and aims to recognise historical experiences of lesbophobia.
“These older lesbians jumping on the tram to hold hands and to bring visibility.
“A lot of lesbians I speak to had no idea that lesbians experienced discrimination,” she added.
“In Australia, we tend to refer to LGBTI histories collectively – as though everyone had the same historical experiences.
“We want to raise awareness of the unique experiences of older lesbians and how lesbophobia was and is different from homophobia.”
The project has also put the call out for anyone who has photos, archival material or stories relating to historical experiences of lesbophobia.
They’re also encouraging lesbians to upload hand holding photos to social media with the hashtag #womenholdinghands.
The ‘Hold Hands on a Tram’ will take place Wednesday October 11.