Queer Legacies, New Solidarities


From 22-24 November 2018, Deakin Gender and Sexuality Studies, The Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association & The Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives presented the Queer Legacies, New Solidarities conference. Staged at Deakin University and the State Library of Victoria, the conference reflected on the 40 years since Gay liberation and second-wave feminism, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Australian Lesbian and Gay archives. The conference brought together the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives and the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association for the first time, this conference aimed to reflect on collective histories and explore what kinds of solidarities could take us into the future. In the context of the marriage debate and its aftermath and renewed debates about patriarchy and misogyny, the activist and intellectual work of the 1970s was revisited in a variety of ways. Similarly, activist campaigns across a range of issues including indigenous sovereignty, the detention of refugees, disability rights and cuts to welfare programmes have renewed a focus on practices of solidarity and coalitionist politics associated with the 1970s. As a conference that invited people who were both inside and outside of universities, it was an exciting opportunity to reflect on ways for doing work in sex, gender and sexuality across university and community settings.

This conference focused on queer and gendered legacies and how we work with such legacies to build future worlds and solidarities. Since second-wave feminism and Gay Liberation, and the rise of women’s studies and lesbian and gay studies nurtured by these developments, understandings, activism, scholarship and pedagogies in relation to gender and sexuality have developed and grown in complex and often unforeseen ways. A key factor has been attending to how a sense of “we” is culturally framed, contingent, a site of struggle, and often fragile. This conference invited people to reflect on how collective histories (both cultural and pedagogic) are traced and articulated, how they inform our work and being in the present moment, and the role of solidarities in envisioning the future. What themes, methods and tendencies characterise contemporary research, teaching and activism in relation to gender and sexuality and in what ways can we think about this contemporary work in relation to its historical antecedents? How has gender and sexuality studies been reshaped by debates about decolonisation, globalisation, ecological crisis and disability studies? In a context of resurgent moral panics over sex, gender and sexuality, this conference encouraged reflections on the material and discursive conditions enabling research, teaching and community collaborations within gender and sexuality studies. As experiences and understandings of sex, gender and sexuality shift, in some cases pluralising and in other cases narrowing, how might “we” develop research, teaching and activism which is attentive to the denigration of difference (e.g. racism, poverty, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia etc.)? What have we learned about new ways of assembling collectives around expanding recognitions of difference? What types of solidarities are now possible or might be required?

This conference invited presentations and panels on a wide variety of historical and contemporary topics, from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds, related to sex, gender and sexuality, including work on masculinity and heterosexuality. In particular, we encouraged feminist, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer work. We invited critical and creative contributions, presented individually or collectively.

Queer Legacies, New Solidaritieswas supported by Deakin Gender and Sexuality Studies and brought together, for the first time, the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association & the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.  It was the 18th conference in ALGA’s HomoHistories conference series and was the 2018 conference within AWGSA’s bi-annual national conference series. ALGA celebrated its 40th anniversary this year and the conference was part of its anniversary celebrations marking four decades of collecting and preserving Australian queer history. 

Keynote speakers 


Conference Organisers

AWGSA and ALGA logos

Banner image attribution details: Adelaide Gay Pride Week 1973. Jill Matthews photographic collection. Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives.