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Independent Member - Photographer - Airborne

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Written by  | Published in: Personal stories

"There continues to be a lot more to a person's sexuality, other than being gay."

Having joined the Royal Victorian Aero Club (RVAC) early in 1950 as an Associate Member, while continuing to live in fear of revealing my sexual preference, by 1952, I'd published "Next Stop the Moon" in the Club magazine. It was a brief review of the lunar surface, 17 years before Russia's Sputnik and NASA's first lunar landing of Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969.

I often found myself in the air, sitting behind the pilot sometimes practicing aerobatics over selected areas around Victoria. My dual photographic and particularly my astronomical interests attracted the attention of several licensed pilots, including those from the Air Force. They requested attendance at my lectures at Melbourne Observatory. After all, flying and space do have a strong connection. The Air Force guys suggested I should enter the Royal Australian Air Force, (RAAF) perhaps the Reserve.


pdf  Click to download a PDF version of this article.

airborne2With much Military and Naval service on both sides of my family, a Great Grandfather and Grandfather, both Captains of windjammers, my Uncle a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Australian Navy, a Father and Brother, both Military, and another uncle serving as a police detective. It is perhaps no revelation that my genes had something to do with a desire to serve, but WW11 had ended two years before I was eligible. However, I had gained experience in professional photography, so working in forensic as a police officer may have been a good choice, but I was too short for – and gay, a definite no-no in those days. The same rejection of gay people applied in the Armed Services during the two most unpopular wars in Korea, 1950/1953 and Vietnam 1959-1975, prior to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. However, perhaps being gay, I would be less evident as a part time serviceman, so I joined the RAAF Reserve attached to 21 (F) Squadron, having qualified in the practical photography examination at the RAAF Central Photographic Unit, Laverton, Vic. (CPE) to become an Aircraftsman based at the same location to serve the Squadrons local Photographic requirements, which included interstate trips and exercises, until retirement as Leading Aircraftman, late 1957.

The Twin Seat de Havilland DH.100 Vampire Jet is the aircraft I flew in over Sydney in a military exercise with 23 Squadron from Brisbane, Queensland.

During my RAAF term we had other military exercises, in Williamtown, NSW and Darwin, Northern Territory in 1955/1956 with the USA Air Force for a period of one month on each occasion. Photos: Sunrise & Sunset at Darwin RAAF Base 1955/1956.

Luke, Darwin RAAF Base.

The Australian Defence Medal was established in 2006 to recognise current and former Australian Defence Force Regular and Reserve personnel. I received mine 50 years after RAAF Service retirement!

airborne3In decades past, like other people in western nations, Australian Military, Police, Firefighters and many more, were forced to keep their sexual preference secret, or they faced isolation or a dishonorable discharge from their particular service.

As seen from the 21st Century, the earlier repulsion, that rejection, that fear of the unknown, largely expounded by a somewhat suspicious or bigoted heterosexual community, must now be made aware, there is an absolute minimum of 10% of the world's population that is gay, lesbian, transgender or whatever.

To the USA/Canada/Australian gay organizations, I remind readers very strongly: It is self evident, there is a lot more to your sexuality, other than being gay. This fact is today very much on the agenda of Police Recruit Training at the Victorian Academy, where staff and volunteers confront recruits with the community's diversities to produce future law enforcement squads that will know how to respect and serve you and change homophobic community bias.

The Founding President, Woody Baldwin's biography is now published.

So, it's time to speak out."What's Your True Story". We are interested.



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Last modified on Monday, 04 November 2013 13:24
Luke Bryant

Retired, following 20 years at Monash University, Dept. of Physics as Head of Photographic Laboratory from 1962 to the end of 1982 – to become openly involved with Gay/Lesbian issues in Law Enforcement, particularly those of Gay/Lesbian Victoria Police Officers.

I'm also a member of the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation,  formed  to perpetuate the memory of members of the Victoria Police killed in the line of duty. This is achieved through fund raising with money going to specialized medical facilities in Victorian public hospitals. 

To date, the Blue Ribbon Foundation has allocated more than $3 million to community projects that give specialized treatment and medical care to over 65,000 patients each year.

* See: Articles in Prime Timers, "ACCEPTANCE - NOT TOLERANCE AND HATE-CRIMES"  Pages 10 & 11, February 2012 and "TIMES PAST" Pages 10 & 11,  August 2012. 

Much of my history and photos can be found throughout my website on Yahoo “flickr”.  See below.

Website: www.flickr.com/photos/rlukebryant/


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