It was in Victorian times that the word “gay” was first associated with sex. Originally it referred to those who lived promiscuously or engaged in prostitution. In its specific homosexual meaning, gay was first publicly mentioned in London in 1889 in the so called Cleveland Street scandal. This concerned a brothel frequented by men in high office and serviced by Post Office boys.
Using “gay” to describe a homosexual didn’t really take off in Australia until relatively recent times. This caused considerable embarrassment on President Johnson’s visit to Sydney. Large banners suspended across the streets along which his motorcade was to proceed welcomed him with the words “Let’s go Gay with LBJ”
“In preparation for the president and Lady Bird Johnson’s arrival at the Art Gallery of NSW, a mini bush park was built and stocked with koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and a lonely echidna raided from Taronga Zoo.
Sylvia Hale said one of her abiding recollections was the Mormon choir booming out The Yellow Rose of Texas and The Battle Hymn of the Republic over and over again until a wharfie rushed to Woolworths, bought a pair of wire cutters and silenced the microphones.
Hundreds of protestors rushed forward to halt the presidential cavalcade, police were grabbing demonstrators and dragging them out, the air was filled with chants and screams.
A red-faced Premier Askin could hardly believe that his triumphal event had been brought to a halt by what he called “the great unwashed” and that he was being publicly humiliated in front of the President of the USA. He wrote himself into the 20th-Century Australian history by shouting at the official driver: “Drive over the bastards.”
Askin made a gift of twin albino wallabies to the startled president while a koala fell from a pole to its death after electrocuting itself.”