Is Sydney ready to host the biggest LGBTQ+ event?


Therein lies the anger: It’s not just business. They are (allegedly) community organizations. Mardi Gras is a charity. The dominant voice complaining online (mainly because party tickets are selling out so fast) is cis, gay, male, in the gym, and cashing in.

The result is an uncomfortable narrative of privilege about an event that propels Sydney onto the global stage. Diversity filters down to a narrow cohort.

Holding your head up is an age-old debate about what Mardi Gras actually is. The 78ers will tell you it started as a protest. Others say the celebration aspect is just as important: just as gay bars are more than just pubs, Pride parties are more than just celebrations; Both places are sanctuaries that create rare safe spaces where LGBTQ people can really be themselves for a few hours.

The group Pride in Protest says: “WorldPride has made it clear who they want to attend the conference: cashed-in, pink-washing corporates,” including “for PR.”


WorldPride counters that concessions such as pensioners and Indigenous Australians can participate for $49 a day and that 100 bursaries are available for low-income people to participate free of charge.

In the debate of commercialization versus community, it’s worth noting that Mardi Gras went bankrupt in 2002 and you can’t host one of the world’s largest free nightly parades on a budget.

The other thing to note is that only 11 events have been put up for sale so far. WorldPride’s full program, to be announced in November, will feature 300.

Organizers insist that the capacity of the Mardi Gras party’s venue/dance floor – which has been increased since renovations during COVID – matches the number of tickets available to attendees and that the 2020 party was a “great learning experience”.

It’s also possible to attend Sydney WorldPride for free – including major events such as the Oxford Street Parade, Fair Day and the Pride March over the Harbor Bridge.

Sydney’s gay community – and the city more broadly – has struggled in recent years to shake off its reputation as an empty, shiny, and flat place.

An event of this magnitude has the potential to take recent progressive wins out into the world – but those astronomical prizes got off to a shaky start.

Perspective and humor will help our city weather these troubles and host something world class. Regarding the parties, note the words of my favorite meme: “Whoever said ‘hell has no rage like a woman despised’ clearly has never met a homosexual who was easily molested.”

Gary Nunn is a finalist in the upcoming ACON Honor Awards for his journalism on LGBTQ issues. Is Sydney ready to host the biggest LGBTQ+ event?

Joel McCord

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