You stand outside the Paddington Town Hall, 7:30pm on Sunday. One after another, stretched limos pull in to the kerb. Familiar faces ascend the red carpeted stairs. Blazing lights criss-cross the sky. You have arrived at a bright star in the gay and lesbian community’s constellation of nights, the Pride Week Awards.

Note to self: Take a deep breath – awards nights always drive me to hyperbole.

Co-host Portia Turbo can hardly contain her excitement, either. I cannot wait. It is going to be so fucking glamorous that the audience will sweat glitter. Everyone on the A-list will be there, to see and be seen. It will be one of those events that people talk about for a long time. It’s time to get out of the house; bring your entourage, she admonishes.

The Awards recognise those individuals, organisations and events that have made a mark in our community. They are community voted: we at the Star were overwhelmed by a raft of completed ballot forms. Votes closed on Monday, but the winners will remain a closely guarded secret until the opening of the envelopes on Sunday night.

Co-host Gillian Minervini is clear on the importance of the Awards. Our community has been a bit battered in the past 12 months, but look at what we’ve achieved -“ the Gay Games, New Mardi Gras and age of consent. We’re great at being bitchy and having high expectations. We should be equally great at slapping one another on the back, she says.

The Awards will also be a great night of entertainment. Ian Knowles, responsible for the Gay Games opening ceremony, is set to choreograph and direct. Shirley Thomas, who bears an extraordinary visual and aural resemblance to Karen Carpenter, channelling her warm timbre, will perform. Darren Mapes, whose resemblance to Richard Carpenter is down mostly to an amusing blonde wig, will accompany her on the keyboard in their tribute The Carpenters Once More.

Other performers include Sexy Galexy, gender illusionist and Pride awards nominee for Sexiest Woman, and guitarist Ralph Martens. Galexy appears regularly at the Sly Fox Hotel in Enmore. She is known to assemble her masculinity item by item onstage, drawing fake moustaches and crotch-augmenting socks from a bag. It’s funny being nominated Sexy Girl when I’m dressed always as a boy. It proves there is a girl behind all that hair, she laughs.

There will also be a tribute to those who participated in the first national Pride Week protests in 1973. It’s important to maintain an awareness of where we came from, to hear our oral histories, says Awards organiser Julianne Sanders. A film will be shown on Sunday night of veterans revisiting key sites, including the Cenotaph where protestors laid wreaths in 1973 before being arrested.

Turbo agrees. We should thank the people who made it possible to go out on a Sunday and see two men kissing. Otherwise, we’d still be in speakeasies.

The audience will be seated at tables of 10, so grab your nine best friends and get ready for a boozy, glittering night of celebration. Who knows -“ the Sexiest Man or Woman might brush against your thigh on the way to collect their award.

The Awards are this Sunday 29 June at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 each with a discount for groups of 10. They are available from the Sydney Pride Centre, 26 Hutchinson St, Surry Hills, or by phoning 9331 1333. Tickets can also be bought at the door but beware -“ they are selling fast.



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