Peter Bonsall-Boone, gay activist and half of one of the first openly gay couples to appear on Australian television, has died today after a long battle with cancer. He was 78 years old.
He and his partner, Peter de Waal, celebrated their 50th year together in October 2016. To mark the occasion, they exchanged rings – but Bonsall-Boone, known as Bon, remained wistful about their unofficial status.
— AU Marriage Equality (@AMEquality) April 9, 2017
In a video for the Equality Campaign, he said:
“I’d love to be able to move my wedding ring from my right hand to my left hand. And then I’d be able to call him my husband and have no problems with that. That would be wonderful.“Marriage for Peter and me would be a great sort of fulfilment of many years of association and love. To make it official would be just great.”
Bonsall-Boone was a lifelong Christian who lost his job as a church secretary after appearing with de Waal in 1972 on the documentary series Chequerboard. During that program, they shared Australia’s first same-sex onscreen kiss.
The Sydney couple met in Melbourne in 1966 and have been with one another ever since. Both have been instrumental in agitating for change to anti-homosexuality laws and discrimination. They participated in the first Mardi Gras in 1978, and helped to set up what became the Gay and Lesbian Help Line.
In the same Equality Campaign video, de Waal expressed his own longing for marriage equality, saying:
“We’ve been second class citizens for all of the 50 years we’ve been together. It would be absolutely wonderful if we could say one day, ‘We are equal.'”
Our thoughts are with Peter and Bon’s friends and family. That their 50 year union had to end without being recognised by their country is a terrible tragedy.
Image: Equality Campaign.