Monday, April 22, 2024
Television

New docu-series probes case of shocking anti-gay violence in paradise

When authorities found Scott Johnson’s body at the rocky base of a cliff in Australia in 1988, they declared his death a suicide. But that was just one red herring in an epic quest for justice.

Scott Johnson, a gay American mathematician met his tragic demise Down Under and the murky circumstances surrounding his shocking death, in which his naked body was found at the base of dramatic coastal cliffs, set his older brother Steve Johnson’s decades-long pursuit for answers in motion. 

Never Let Him Go, a new docu-series from ABC News Studios, paints an intimate portrait of Scott’s life and untimely death through never-before-seen evidence from the investigation, personal home videos and rare archival footage from 1980s’ Sydney. As Steve’s probe gained international attention, it sparked a public reckoning in Australia, shedding new light on a pattern of violence against the LGBTQ+ community.

You can read about the particulars of the case here.

While the series was in production, the filmmakers captured a breakthrough in real-time: 35 years after Scott’s death, his killer confessed and was sentenced in June of this year in the New South Wales Supreme Court. The series features an interview with Helen White, the confessed killer’s ex-wife, who breaks her silence for the first time after tipping off the police. The docu-series also features exclusive in-depth interviews with Steve and his family and first-ever interviews with key law enforcement officials who worked on the case.

Over four episodes, Never Let Him Go traces the intense journey to cracking Scott’s case. With dozens of similar unsolved cases involving gay men in Australia, Steve has been left to decide if his search for justice was complete — or if it had just begun.

This is but one story in what has been referred to as the Gay Gang Murders — a series of suspected anti-LGBT hate crimes perpetrated by large gangs of youths in Sydney, Australia, between 1970 and 2010, with most occurring in 1989 and 1990. Most of these attacks occurred at local gay beats, in beaches and parks, known to the police as locations where gangs of teenagers targeted gay men for sport, but police at the time did little to investigate such crimes.

Never Let Him Go begins streaming on Wednesday, Sept. 6, only on Hulu.

Queer Forty Staff

Queer Forty writing staff work hard to bring you all the latest articles to help inspire and inform.

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