A HISTORIC glory hole has been accepted into the WA Museum’s collection as a significant object in Perth’s LGBTI history.
The hole had been cut through the door of a car park toilet block on the Albany Highway-side of the Gosnells train station and was used by gay men for covert sex and to find boyfriends back when being queer carried a nasty stigma.
Glory holes were also used by men who hid their sexuality behind a traditional marriage, and men who didn’t identify as gay but got off on the anonymity and detachment of sex through a hole.
Neil Buckley, aka Mother Gretta from gay activist group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, saved the door with friend Bill Martin in 1997, shortly before the toilet block was demolished.
Mr Buckley had featured the door in a short film he’d made that year titled The Other Side of Glory, exploring the culture surrounding gay beats.
Mr Buckley said the door was an important part of a social history that is disappearing in the digital age.
“I am sure this exhibit will bring back a lot of fond memories for many of the men who used beat culture as a way to meet other gay men to form a friendship, partnerships and a quickie.
“It was a lot of fun and a thrill too,” Mr Buckley said.
“Beats were an important part of gay social life and culture: they were a great place to meet, make friends and have a great anonymous sexual experience.
“Beat culture is not often talked about, but most of the gay community has done it at one time or another. Sadly this culture has now disappeared with the installation of automated toilet cubes and gay pick up apps like Grindr [and] Scruff.”
WA Museum’s head of the history department Stephen Anstey says the museum is committed to representing the multiplicity of WA’s social and cultural experiences, including items that share stories from WA’s LGBTI community.
“We are very pleased to have received the door from Neil Buckley and believe it represents an important part of Perth’s social history.”
“Our collections also aim to reflect contemporary issues in the diverse communities of Western Australia. With this in mind the Museum’s history department has collected a range of items such as T shirts, posters and banners from both sides of the recent marriage equality referendum.”
The toilet door went through the museum’s acquisition’s committee before being accepted and will now be put through a rigorous process of cataloguing its physical condition, function and significance before it goes into the storeroom or onto display.
by DAVID BELL