On Sunday, Victorian Pride Centre – the world’s second-largest LGBTQI+ community hub opened in Melbourne. There are now fresh calls for a long-stalled project – an LGBTQI+ museum on Oxford Street – to be implemented.
The LGBTQI+ community has a long-standing history in Sydney. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras started in the city and attracts thousands of people worldwide every year. A permanent museum could preserve the economic and social fabric of the community.
The $50 million Victorian Pride Centre, a state-of-the-art facility in St Kilda on Fitzroy Street, where the annual Pride march takes place, was funded by the Victorian Government and the City of Port Phillip.
PREVIOUS FAILED EFFORTS
In 2014, Sydney City Council had voted against a proposal for Australia’s first council-run LGBTQI+ museum in the T2 Building on Oxford Street. The building was sold off in 2016 and has been empty since. The building is a perfect location on Oxford Street to house a progressive Sydney LGBTQI+ centre.
“In the case of the Museum of Chinese in Australia in Haymarket, the proposal and detailed plan came from Sydney’s Chinese community and was supported by all levels of government. The same will be required for a successful LGBTQI+ equivalent,” Greenwich said.
The Museum of Chinese in Australia in Haymarket is supported by the City of Sydney and following an EOI process 13 organisations applied to take ownership of a previous library at 744 George Street.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore told Star Observer that “while there is a group of people exploring the possibility of a queer museum or space in Sydney, they have yet to develop a concrete proposal for establishing a museum and ensuring that it is viable. A member of my staff has met with the group, and we look forward to seeing the proposal develop.”
City of Sydney Labour Councillor Linda Scott is a vocal advocate for Sydney to have an LGBTQI+ museum.
David Polson, an HIV/AIDS activist, told Star Observer, “we’ve discovered that it’s vital that a feasibility study and a business plan is submitted to any project that is going to be considered by the council.”
Creating an exciting LGBTQI+ centre in Sydney could promote local and global artists, and educate the community and broader population about Australia’s queer history. Artist-in-residence programs and community events and talks could engage and foster important work.
Andrew Gorman-Murray, Professor of Geography at WSU, has written about LGBT-friendly neighbourhoods worldwide and says Sydney can learn from New York, San Francisco and Berlin, cities that have established successful LGBTQI+ museums and galleries.
“It could include exhibition spaces chronicling the history of LGBTQI+ communities, including their significant contribution to Australian life, and the personal stories of noteworthy individuals.”
In March 2021, Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby had told City Hub that he wanted Sydney to have a space similar to the Victorian Pride Centre, where he is a patron.
Should Oxford Street be preserved as a historic, cultural, commercial and tourist precinct for the LGBTQI community?To mark the Star Observer’s 42nd anniversary we are hosting a panel discussion on the future of Oxford Street. Join a community forum with:
• Clover Moore, City of Sydney Lord Mayor
• Alex Greenwich MP; Independent Member for Sydney in New South Wales
• Kate Wickett is the Interim CEO of Sydney WorldPride 2023
• David Polson Chair of the steering committee for “Sydney Queer Space”
• Andrew Gorman-Murray is a Professor of Geography at Western Sydney University
• Lawrence Gibbons, Publisher of the Star Observer
Date and time: Sunday, 1 August 2021, 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm AEST
Location: Burdekin Hotel, 2 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010