Hosted by comedian and commentator Gretel Killeen at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday night, the Ball has become an annual fixture on the LGBTI social calendar, drawing prominent LGBTI and LGBTI-friendly politicians, business figures, celebrities and sporting stars.
The night included performances from New York drag performance artist and cabaret singer Joey Arias, Australian musician and actor Brendan Maclean and Sydney show queen Trevor Ashley. The traditional keynote speech was delivered by iconic Australian actress Magda Szubanski, who made waves when she publicly came out as gay on Valentine’s Day in 2012.
Aurora Group Chairman Adam Niewand said that Szubanski was the “perfect choice” to speak.
“As well as her hilarious wit, insight and intelligence, most importantly she is someone who can speak from the heart as a person who has faced many of the challenges in life that our LGBT community can so closely relate to,” Niewand said.
An Aurora Group spokesperson estimated the night raised more than $50,000 after expenses through ticket prices and the traditional auction. Items up for auction included a wedding and a week on Queenstown’s ski slopes in New Zealand, lithographs and woodblock engravings from Picasso, Dali and Chagall, an invitation for two to the Lord Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Party at the Opera House and custom gold wedding rings.
Money raised from the dinner will be distributed via grants to various LGBTI charities and community groups after an application round later in the year. Aurora regularly acts as patron for Newtown-based youth care service Twenty10 and the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service Hotline, which Twenty10 runs.
Founded in 1999, the Aurora Group was formed to raise funds for charities and community organisations that provide services for the LGBTI community in NSW. The annual Aurora Dinner, which had its inaugural year in 2001, commemorates International Stonewall Day marking the Stonewall riots of 1969 that are widely considered to be the start of the mainstream gay rights movement.