P is for:

Potts Point This inner ciy suburb has long been home to the gays, at least since the 1920s and 30s when the country’s first high-rise apartment buildings (which back then meant anything over eight storeys) sprang up and the population in the neighbourhood boomed. Many of those flooding the area were refugees escaping from fascist Europe, bringing with them their culture, food and liberal ideas.

By the 1940s Potts Point and its surrounds (Kings Cross, Elizabeth Bay) were known as sophisticated and cosmopolitan, full of bohemians, artists and a sizeable gay community. The neighbourhood was often compared at the time to Montmartre and Manhattan.

It retained its diverse grungy glamour over the next few decades, even after the Vietnam War brought a flood of US soldiers on R&R, followed by a massive jump in prostitution and drugs in the area. In the 1990s Potts Point underwent some serious gentrification, with all the large hotels transformed into trendy apartment buildings creating another population boom.

Today the suburb is absolutely packed with gays, attracted by the area’s proximity to the harbour, CBD and Darlinghurst, by the mix of restaurants, boutiques and art deco buildings, as well as by the area’s colourful past.

Pride Others may have been panicking about the much-hyped millennium bug, but New Year’s Eve 1999/ 2000 was a high-water mark for gay community group Sydney Pride Centre. About 10,000 revellers turned out to celebrate its turn-of-the-millennium bash at Fox Studios, handing it the perfect start to the new century.

Recent times have been far less forgiving. Partygoers have abandoned Pride in droves of late -“ about 3,700 went to its New Year’s Eve party to see in 2002, and it sold only 1,900 tickets to its end-of-2004 event. The poor party sales hit hard, as Pride reported serious financial losses but resisted calls to merge with New Mardi Gras.

By the middle of last year the organisation announced it was so strapped for cash it couldn’t stage its signature New Year’s Eve party.

Compounding its financial woes, Pride lost much of its Erskineville Town Hall premises to a new City of Sydney neighbourhood centre last December.

The annual Pride Week is due to go ahead in the middle of the year, but Pride’s string of misfortunes has cast a question mark over its role. A delayed Pride annual general meeting, now scheduled for late April, may provide answers.

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