Monday 13 September 2010

Rex Masters: 15 Oct 1935 –1 Sept 2010

The following letter was given to Ian Byford by Rex Masters, only a few months.

Rex, a Holloways Beach resident, had been a faithful and studious contributor to the Cairns community for many years. He passed away just a month shy of his 75th birthday.

Ian had asked him to put pen to paper, soon after he received news that his Pancreatic cancer was slowly consuming his body, and his life.

"I needed some background information about Rex's life for the Cairns gay history book that we were compiling together," Ian Byford said. ""I will miss him as a work colleague and friend."

  • MY STORY - by Rex Masters

    I was born in Melbourne in 1935. and I have a brother who I have not spoken to in 30 years.

    It was in 1942, when I was seven years old that I was recruited to join the Scout movement by a local leader who lived down the road from my parent's house. For the next 40 years, my life was in and around the Scout Movement, and I was confined to the closet.

    The excitement of those early years kept me going, passing all the tests and challenges and rising rapidly through the various ranks of the Scout Movement until I was employed full time at the national level. It is now 1955 and I realised what I was missing out on.

    After a brief stint at
    Puckapunyal doing National Service and experimenting with opening the closet door, I was nominated to represent Australia at the “50 Jare Phadfinder Orchestrich” a World Scout Jamboree in Austria, and at the opening of Baden Powell House in London, a multi-story hostel and the headquarters of the British Scout Association. It was at this function in London that I met the Queen and then spent the next year and a half touring and working in Europe.

    On returning to Australia, I worked for the Youth Affairs Council of Australia as an International Officer by day and Manager of the Pink Panther Sex Shop at night. I revelled in the new found liberation that these positions afforded me. After a few months at the Youth Council my gay boss, the Chief Executive Officer, resigned and I was asked to replace him, becoming the Chief of the peak youth body in Australia.

    I was made an Honorary Life Governor of Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital on 3 November 1977.

    Then after much more national and International travel, especially in Asia, I decided I needed a new life. Easter 1993 I came to live permanently in Cairns, a place I had visited on many occasions in the previous 20 years. I did go back to Melbourne on a couple of occasions but not for long as I had started a business here in Cairns.

    I applied and was appointed Manager of Lifeline Cairns.

    I soon settled in the local gay scene and it
    wasn’t long before I joined the Cairns Gay Women’s and Men’s Association Inc (Cairns GWMA Inc ) a gay social group which ran Rustys weekly discos at the Commercial Hotel. I was chair of this group for 5 years until it closed in 1996 when other venues opened up. I was front of house and organised all the entertainment.

    He had opened the door to his closet but still very discretely because he was more comfortable doing it this way.

    I used my organisational skills to develop
    GWMA and others . I was committee chairman and with Ron Stoneman organised two Fantasy Balls held at the Hilton Hotel in 94 and 95. I also sat on several gay community committees and became involved with the Queensland AIDS Council.

    In 1996 I took up the challenge to create and publish a local information guide book for locals and tourists. This was the Pink Guide to Cairns and Tropical North Queensland. Four editions were printed before I sold this in 2000.

    I also founded the Gay Business Association in 1999. It was a business/social group and it organised the Sweat Parties 1 and 2. - Rex Masters

"We were working on this history when he became ill just a month ago," Ian Byford told

"When I came to live permanently in Cairns in 1996, I very shortly crossed paths with Rex and was able to assist him in editing the second edition of the Pink Guide and subsequent editions."

"When he decided to ease up on his community activities and to resume travelling again, he asked me to take over the Guide publication, which I did and I published another five editions before I sold it in 2008. The 10th edition was published by the new owners and then it ceased, much to both Rex’s and my regret."

Rex Masters still kept up his interest in helping QUAC, now
Queensland Association of Healthy Communities and only last week was elected into the Hall of Fame of the Cairns Tropical Pride Community Award 2010, in recognition of his outstanding achievements and contributions to the community of North Queensland.

"When I spoke to him on Tuesday, the day before he died, and showed him the certificate, he understood that the voluntary work over the years for the gay community was recognised and appreciated," Ian Byford said.

"He had not been well for the past 12 months, and when he was finally diagnosed with having Pancreatic cancer only a month ago, Rex was accepting and handled the news calmly and with great dignity."

"Rex Masters was very practical because he then made plans to give items away to his close friends who had helped him and to the Cairns branch of QAHC," Ian said. "I will miss him as a work colleague and friend."

"Rest in peace Rex and open that closet door fully," Ian Byford says.

  • Tuesday 14th September:
    A Celebration of Life ~ Rex Masters 1935- 2010

  • Please join us for afternoon tea to celebrate the
    life of our friend and colleague

    2pm-4pm - QAHC Resource Centre
    290 Draper Street, Parramatta Park

    In lieu of flowers, please bring a plate of food to share for afternoon tea. appreciated.

    NB: Messages can be emailed to Molly Quick.


Terry the Tiger said...

"Gay Business Association"? Yeah, we all know what kind of behaviour encompasses this "gay business".

It's sick.

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

Piss off Tiger - none of your homophobia.

A very well-respected and active member of the Cairns community has just passed away, and quite a few are very sad. A little respect for the dead, please?