First, we should probably warn you that a trip ‘down under’ means something totally different here...
Now that’s out the way, let’s get down to business! Sydney is a strong contender for first place on most bucket lists, but for the queer community, it’s so much more than just sandy beaches, high-rise buildings and iconic landmarks.
Sydney has a thriving gay scene, with a long history of LGBTQ+ activism and one of the largest pride events in the world. So hop out the closet and onto a plane because the vibrant, progressive Emerald City is waiting for you.
If you’re lucky enough to call Sydney home, you’ll understand that there really is no place like it. If not, grab your ruby red dancing shoes and make your way to Darlington, the city’s main gay district, for a gay ol’ time in Oz. There you’ll find The Imperial Hotel, which has been inviting members of the LGBTQ+ community to “drink, dance, drag & dine” since 1983 and Bear Bar where you can enjoy a “big, gay happy hour”.
The Stonewall Hotel is another bar to add to the list. Inspired by the Stonewall Riots of 1969, in which members of the LGBTQ+ community staged riots in response to a recent police raid, the bar is said to provide a “safe, fun, gay and supportive environment” for customers to enjoy a night of eating, drinking and dancing.
As far as queer nightclubs go, ARQ is up there with some of the best in the world. Split into two divisions, the popular nightclub hosts a wide range of gay theatre productions, along with insane drag, DJ and clubbing extravaganzas. The venue itself is incredible. The theatre productions are held in the vortex, which is fully equipped with a stage, dressing rooms and backstage facilities. Recent productions held at ARQ include Masqueerade and Manimal, just to give you a taste of what to expect!
Upstairs, the arena boasts incredible lighting displays and a first-class sound system. The nightclub researched sound characteristics and acoustics for 5 years before the arena was built, so you know a night at ARQ is going to be as hot as any one of the Hemsworth brothers.
lgbtq+ liberation in sydney
Here are a few key years in which Sydney made progress in the fight for LGBTQ+ liberation, along with some movie references to give you a better picture of the time (because why not?):
In 1986, the year Matthew Broderick started stealing hearts as Ferris Bueller, LGBT discrimination became illegal in Sydney.
Homosexual activity has been legal since Uma Thurman and John Travolta created that iconic dance sequence as Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega. That’s 1994 for all the non-Pulp Fiction fans.
Only 23 years after homosexual activity was legalised, same sex couples were given (long overdue) permission to tie the knot. 2017 BC (before pandemic) wasn’t a good year for movie releases, but it was a great year for Sydney’s LGBTQ+ community.