The first time I visited Parramatta was when I was thirteen years old. It was during a time in the late nineties when teenagers were using pagers and public telephones to communicate with each other.

I had a long fringe, wore baggy pants and a silver chain necklace that I purchased from Paddy’s market.

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That day, I was probably a very easy target because I was rolled within minutes of exiting Parramatta Station.

After my parents divorced, my mother moved into housing commission on the other side of Parramatta Park. I harboured a lot of shame growing up within the lower socio-economic parts of the Parramatta LGA. And I definitely was not proud of being a queer Korean from the Western Suburbs.

‘If you Are From Here, You Will Always Be One Of Us’

However, there is an unspoken code out here in the West: “if you are from here, you will always be one of us.” Over time, this strangely helped me accept who I was, and I began to really love living in Parramatta (where I am still living today).

It took me some time, but I eventually found my Westie pride.

With the enormous developments and billions of dollars being pumped into the “West”, a strong aspiring spirit is swirling within the city. This, of course, has its pros and cons because urban development is definitely a double-edged sword.

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However, no matter what side you take on this, Parramatta is undeniably booming with new opportunities.

Parramatta is Complex, Rich in Diversity and a New Frontier

So, where do queer locals in Parramatta fit in all this?

And what are the opportunities for us queer folk to forge an identity here?

Parramatta is complex, rich in diversity and a new frontier in many aspects, which is precisely why I love it. Also, the things that happened out here when I was young, don’t happen anymore.

I feel safe in Parramatta to hold my partner’s hand in public, we comfortably display public forms of affection, and we don’t feel scared to dress extremely queer when we want to.

Maybe it’s because I am from here, and I know where to go, but as a local, I can recommend places where the queer community can definitely feel safe.

MY TOP PICKS

Nick & Nora’s – My regular go-to cocktail bar that is very queer

Riverside Theatre – There are always queer events and stage plays happening here

Pho Pasteur – The best beef pho noodle soup in Parramatta

Temasek – My go-to restaurant when nonlocals visit Parramatta

Parramatta Pride Picnic – The annual event at Parramatta River

These are just a few options of many places where queer folk are welcome.

Also, there are parts of Parramatta that only queer people know about, where repressed homosexuality transcends into more discrete forms of queer expression. These exist at private house parties and Parramatta’s very healthy BDSM scene.

However, you have to know a local to know where to go and really respect people’s discreet identities to be invited.

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