Media ID   0058-AB    

Brief preview on Radio GALA of Sydney Mardi Gras, and an interview (1992) with Robert Rowan born 1915, openly gay in the 1940s and 1950s in New Zealand

Unique ID



Graham Underhill, Robert Rowan, unidentified speakers

Related media


Source tape








Radio GALA Access Radio Auckland, Graham Underhill



Radio GALA Access Radio Auckland, Graham Underhill

Recorded by


Graham Underhill

Deposited by


Graham Underhill



This summary gives general themes as to the content of this recording. It is not a verbatim transcript. Always refer back to the original audio. This is a working document and any amendments/corrections are welcome.



Radio GALA (Access Radio Auckland)



Looking forward to Sydney Mardi Gras.. more than just the parade..



5 February 3 March.. list of events during the Sydney Mardi Gras festival.. largest non-subsidised arts festival in Australia.



Interview (1992) with Robert Rowan by Graeme Underhill. Robert came out at 29 in 1944 and was openly gay in the 1940s and 1950s with a relationship which lasted 27 years.



Rowan 77 years old (born 1915).. born in Westmere, Wanganui.. nine in the family.. Scottish ancestry .. rather strict .. been a farmer all my life.. had a florist business for four years..



Rowan Married in 1940.. first son was born .. called up.. into Trentham Military Camp.. being a married man they werent keen on sending you to the front line.. went into the medical unit.. stationed in Cairo .. then to Italy for two years..



Rowan perfect health.. came home five weeks after the war ended..



Rowan acknowledged I was gay when I was 24 .. met a white South African.. dont regret having a family.. I never had guilt about it.. told my parents as soon as I got home..



Rowan I had a few moments of doubt at times.. my marriage broke up in 1947..



Rowan In 1947 ..meeting people.. I was always interested in young farmers clubs.. one thing led to another.. most young me are fit and virile .. I like a man to be a man.. no time for effeminate men.. I cant stand anything camp.. meeting at parties..



Rowan in the city, special gay bars in hotels .. I believed you acted as a man in public.. community .. I hid nothing.. belonging to the RSA.. while on service delivered three babies one night.. one of the babies is named Roberto..



Rowan in the 1950s most kept it quiet.. a lot of married men .. business men.. my mother said to me in front of a group of church people to be honest.. I said I was .. I firmly believe I was born a homosexual..



Rowan when I was 24 my mother told me I should get married.. Even in our church in Palmerston North there were a number of men who got married .. I know three men who committed suicide.. I have a friend today who is 47 years old.. he said hes square.. but both his marriages have broken up..



Rowan when I came back from the war.. a certain college in Palmerston North had a lot of gay or bisexual men.. school teacher propositioned me twice.. my wife and I are still the best of friends.. they know where I stand..



Rowan I always respected my families wishes.. some of my relations said dont visit anymore .. family functions.. bit by bit they accepted.. my intimate family didnt reject me.. we were always told to be honest.. I always judge a man by his handshake or look in the eye.. to deny it was wrong.. owed it to my parents.. my mother wasnt at all surprised..



Rowan Gay Liberation - I was cautious what I went to or what I said.. a lot of young men are promiscuous.. fantasize..



Rowan street marches.. I dont agree with flaunting things or offending people.. .. I cannot stand men performing as women.. in the street.. I dont go along with that .. I thought some of them were rather bold.. call a spade a spade.. I discuss it quite openly with my granddaughters and grandsons..



Rowan twenty-seven year relationship.. I loved the boy.. he came up every weekend..



Rowan thinking back to the last Depression (1930s) .. Mother was very capable.. ran a house on four pounds a week .. seventeen people on the farm..



Rowan two of my uncles in the First World War.. learnt about it in the trenches.. one of my uncles propositioned me when I was fifteen.. when father knew what I was.. I said what about Uncle Alec..



Rowan Homosexual Law Reform .. Ive had my say at Mt Eden Hall .. the Bible.. gay churches in Auckland .. sung in the choir..



Rowan closet queens.. I believe in acting as a man in public.. hypocrites some of them are close friends.. Ive had phone calls from members of the church.. I think we should be honest..



Rowan the loss of youth and beauty.. Ive always been a hard working man.. youth is lovely to have.. but Ive got fifty-two years of experience.. I dont feel my age.. I dont act my age.. I still believe in love making.. magazines.. manly bodied men..



Rowan I have my likes and dislikes.. I like to know who Im with.. Id rather not do cold blooded sex..



Rowan Im very careful.. young people taking risks.. young men do not interest me .. I dont feel my age.. age doesnt worry me .. I believe in the hereafter.. Im a child of God..



Rowan death doesnt worry me.. I made my decision at sixteen.. were made the way we are .. I live from day-to-day.. I speak to the Lord in prayer..



Rowan square friends and gay friends.. honesty.. acknowledge what you are and go forward.. Im an excellent cook.. tapestry.. when I was farming Id open up my house and garden.. took six-hundred and forty pounds.. garage sales..



Rowan why should I get stuck at home .. like the theatre and films.. royalty have been to my home..



Rowan If I had my time again.. Id never marry .. yet I have a lovely family of fifteen