Sinclair, Ken Papers
Span Dates: 1966-1995
Volume: 15 boxes
The Papers of Fr. Ken Sinclair document his interests in moral theology, homosexual law reform, the Catholic Church and homosexuality, pastoral care by the Catholic Church for people with HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS and social work, and HIV/AIDS in general. The collection comprises some correspondence, and several boxes of articles, newspaper clippings, Australian and foreign ephemera, and a scrapbook.
Ken Sinclair (6 Feb 1927 - 19 May 2005) was openly gay Catholic priest, activist and archivist, who spent much of his life living in Melbourne.
Sinclair was born in Footscray, Melbourne, Victoria in 1927, where he undertook his initial schooling at Footscray Hyde Street State School, followed by Mordialloc High School. Before finishing his Leaving Certificate, he commenced work as a Technician-in-Training with the Postmaster’s General (PMG) Department, working there until 1948, except for a short leave of absence to join the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), returning to the PMG following his discharge once WW2 was ended.
In 1948 Sinclair was received into the Catholic Church, having been brought up in the Anglican Church. Later that year he was promoted to a position in the Department of Territories, Alice Springs; followed by a further promotion to a position in Darwin, in the Health Department. After three years working in the Northern Territory, he took leave to begin life as a Novice in the Blessed Sacrament Fathers (now Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament). Following ordination in 1960, Sinclair was sent to the Mission House in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he spent seven months; followed by five months in India, before returning to Australia. On arrival in Melbourne he was appointed to the Church of St Francis', Melbourne, but was shortly thereafter transferred to the Order’s Church in Sydney, and then once more to Bowral, which was now the Order’s centre for school retreats. In the late 1960s Sinclair returned to Melbourne becoming Director of the Order’s Youth Group, the Eymard Society, and ended up staying for seventeen years.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Sinclair was actively involved with the National Homosexual Conferences (later, National Conferences of Lesbians and Homosexual Men), speaking publicly for gay rights, sometimes in the face of considerable censure from the Australian Catholic Church.
In pursuing his academic studies in Melbourne, Sinclair completed his master’s thesis in 1982 on ‘Homosexuals, the law and moral values’, arguing against the contention that ‘homosexual behaviour is immoral and sought to establish that anti-homosexual laws do create harm and that there is a lack of theoretical and empirical support for the assumption of the harmfulness of homosexual behaviour.’ Sinclair’s PhD thesis in 1995 examined the churches' responses to HIV/AIDS through the filter of their attitudes to homosexuality, based on interviews with clergy and people living with HIV/AIDS.
During the 1980s Sinclair became active across a number of gay community groups, in his pastoral work, writing, and as a supporter of groups including the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, to which he donated large amounts of material over the years.
Sinclair was the subject of one of the interviews in Dino Hodge's book ‘The fall upward; spirituality in the lives of lesbian women and gay men’ (1995), in which he describes the simple principles of love and charity being at the heart of his religion, with nothing excusing cruelty dressed up as piety.
"But as our director said: 'Any friendship has to be particular otherwise it's not a friendship'. I can't remember if it's Charlie Brown or Linus in the cartoon strip that says: 'I love humanity. Its individual people I can't stand'. But of course, you can only meet humanity through individuals."
In 2004 Ken received the inaugural ‘Molly’ award for his contribution to the LGBT Arts community. Ken was the Archivist for the Blessed Sacrament Congregation for many years and collected much material which now forms the basis of the congregation's history.
An extensive finding aid is available on request at firstname.lastname@example.org. or in the archives.
These papers are held at the Australian Lesbian Gay Archives.
Activist (religious institutions) | Catholic (Roman) | Australia | Gay Liberation Movement