Sunshine Coast Pride Festival

LOVE is the driving theme behind 2015’s Sunshine Coast Pride Festival, one of the region’s biggest festivals.

2015 will mark its seventh year of celebrating the diversity and visibility of the area’s LGBTI community.

Held from February 27 to March 1, organisers hope that the local community, and neighbouring Brisbanites, can turn out en mass to help celebrate the theme of “Love is Love”.

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“[The theme] is all about celebrating the beauty of love in all of its many forms,” festival organising committee chair Paul Ferguson said.

“Each year has marked significant growth for the festival, with last year’s events expanding to over three days and record crowd numbers.”

He also recalled how the festival’s Fair Day last year was, for the first time, held at the Eumundi Markets (pictured above) — a Queensland institution that is popular with locals and tourists alike.

“Our festival last year was our biggest ever with over 2000 people coming along,” Ferguson said.

“For 2015 we have a lot of great key entertainers secured with an eclectic line-up of artists ranging from folk to dance musicians, intense energy DJs and drag queens.”

Trans* issues will also take centre-stage during the festival’s opening night, with a performance by the internationally-renowned Sunny Drake.

“We have been fortunate enough to secure Sunny Drake to the Coast who will perform his one-man show Transgender Seeking,” Ferguson said.

“We don’t see a lot of LGBTIQ live performance shows on the Coast, so it is a real coup for us to be able to include Sunny’s show in our events line up for 2015.”

Awards celebrating the achievements of members of the Queensland LGBTI community will also make a return. Last year’s award was presented to former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh who introduced Australia’s first civil unions legislation.

Brian Day, the co-founder of the Brisbane branch of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution — one of Australia’s first LGBTI political organisations — along with the Queensland chapter of the Dykes on Bikes will be the recipients of the 2015 Local Hero awards.

Details and tickets: sunshinecoastpride.com.au

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Big Gay Day 2014

The PotBelleez perform at Big Gay Day 2014

Big Gay Day

FIFTEEN years on and still going strong, Brisbane’s Big Gay Day returns Sunday, March 15 at the newly-renovated Wickham Hotel.

The line up of DJs and live performers is, as usual, expected to whip the always at-capacity crowds into a big “gay” frenzy.

The long-running summer street party has always been the pinnacle social event during Brisbane’s long, hot summer and this year will be the first time the party will be held at a completely revitalised Wickham Hotel.

The talk of every Big Gay Day is always the entertainment line-up, with the likes of Boy George, RuPaul and Heather Small gracing the main stage over previous years.

This year features X-Factor Australia finalist Reigan Derry along with Lee Dagger, one half of UK dance group Bimbo Jones, and DJs Jodie Harsh and Crazibiza. More acts will be announced in the lead up to the day.

Crowd favourite MegaDrag also returns for a performance that showcases Brisbane and Queensland’s best drag talent.

Fundraising has a key feature of every Big Gay Day, with local charities receiving 25 per cent of all ticket sales.

A combined total of over $250,000 has been given to local groups and organisations over the years, including Queensland AIDS Council, Open Doors, the Australian Transgender Support Association Queensland and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Details and tickets: biggayday.com.au

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Dolly Diamond ChillOut (Photo: Dean Arcuri)

Dolly Diamond (right) has been longterm supporter and star of Daylesford ChillOut (Photo: Dean Arcuri)

ChillOut

THE country’s biggest and longest-running regional LGBTI cultural event comes of age this year as the Daylesford ChillOut Festival celebrates its 18th birthday.

Since 1997, the Victorian country town has taken to the streets over the March Labour Day long weekend with an abundance of rainbow flags to celebrate the state’s regional LGBTI community — one that can be overlooked at times.

While a showcase for and a means by which country Victoria’s queer community can openly celebrate their identity, ChillOut is also a major drawcard for people from Melbourne and NSW.

Looking to celebrate its 18th birthday in style, organisers have brought in Australia’s best-known lesbian music group, Bluehouse, to entertain crowds at the Daylesford Town Hall.

Victorian drag royalty Dolly Diamond will also return with guaranteed laughs, as well as her sharp-tongue, in a night of cabaret to celebrate her 11th year being involved in the festival.

Usual favourites such as the ChillOut dance party and street parade are also on the agenda, along with the always-popular Carnival Day. Queer Country Pride is the theme this year, so expect cowboy hats, boots and of course, glitter.

Carnival Day headline acts include Sydney dance act Stereogamous (Paul Mac and DJ Seymour Butz), Shaun J. Wright and British rocker Z-Star.

ChillOut goes into full gear on March 6 and runs until March 9.

Details at tickets: chilloutfestival.com.au

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**This article was first published in the March edition of the Star Observer, which is available to read in digital flip-book format. To obtain a physical copy, click here to find out where you can grab one in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.

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