City Spotlight: Sydney

While Sydney is commonly mistaken to be the capital of Australia (and we all know, it is of course Canberra) as it is the most populous and most well-known, many people do believe it is the country’s gay capital. Situated on the southeast coast – making it a very urban seaside city (like many in Australia such as Brisbane), Sydney is the capital of the state of New South Wales, was the site of Australia’s first British colony and is now the country’s most cosmopolitan and multicultural city. So why is Sydney – a very gay-friendly city – a must-visit destination for gay and lesbian travellers? Here we will tell you what LGBT tourists to Sydney can expect from and experience in this lovely city.

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Sydney is consistently ranked by top experts and websites as one of the best cities in the world to live in and one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations and has a very rich culture that centres around music, performing arts and sports. Some of the city’s top attractions include the famous Sydney Opera House, the Olympic Park, numerous arts galleries, museums, arts festivals (some of the biggest in Australia), Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Tower, public sculptures and of course some of the many beaches surrounding the city and nearby areas.

Although the government have yet to acknowledge same-sex marriage, research has shown that the majority of the Australian population do support and want it. Other LGBT rights are mostly in line with other first-world countries, such as anti-discrimination legislation, the right to change one’s legal gender and in some states the right to adopt and foster children. Gay life in Sydney however, does flourish and is predominantly centred around the Darlinghurst (mainly Oxford Street) and Surry Hills districts, alongside others, where a large number of gay-owned and gay-friendly business reside, include bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, saunas and accommodation. Bondi, Obelisk and Lady Jane beaches are some of the most frequented beaches by gays and are very busy during the summer months, both day and night. The many bars and clubs vary far and wide, with ones to suit everyone’s style and preferences – there are men-only places, lesbian bars, trans bars, cabaret and drag queen bars, high-end and cheaper places for those with different budgets, large and loud clubs for the young and hip and those who prefer an older, mature crowd and a quieter place to chill.

Sydney’s LGBT pride parade, commonly known as Mardi Gras, is similar in extravagance to those in Brazil. It is the largest of this event in Australia and in the southern hemisphere outside of South America, attracting over 300,000 people who watch the Parade and around 70,000 who attend Fair Day, the opening day of the event which lasts a few weeks in February and March. The event grew from gay rights marches held annually since 1978 and  it is now New South Wales’ second-largest annual event in terms of economic impact, generating an annual income of about A$30 million for the state, proving the power of the “Pink Dollar” and gay travel. The Mardi Gras Film Festival also takes place during this time. QueerScreen is another film festival held in Newtown district in September and Sydney Pride – not to be confused with Mardi Gras is another large and popular LGBT event held every June for about two weeks.

Sydney is one of Gay Homestays‘ top destinations and our most popular in Australia with over 30 accommodations available – from gay guest rooms in apartments and houses, whole properties and gay or gay-friendly rooms in guesthouses – in the city and its surrounding area, though many are situated in or around Sydney’s gay area. Obviously the most popular time to visit Sydney or any other area of Australia is during the summer (December to February) and when Mardi Gras is on, though Sydney’s climate is still pretty stable and mild (average of 15-20 degrees Celsius) throughout the rest of the year.

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