In 2019, when Sydney won the bid to host WorldPride 2023, it was an acknowledgement of Australia’s thriving LGBTQI+ communities. But it also comes as a lifeline to the heart of Sydney’s queer community—Oxford Street.
WorldPride Sydney is intent on reviving Sydney’s night-time economy and will support a “pipeline” of events in order to revive the arts and culture scene that has been decimated by lockouts and lockdowns, says WorldPride Sydney CEO, Kate Wickett.
WorldPride celebrations will coincide with the 45th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Australia’s 50th Gay Pride Week.
According to Wickett, around 1.2 million people are expected to attend the celebrations. This is based on research from previous international festivals hosted in Sydney, prior Mardi Gras festivals and previous WorldPrides. Although these numbers might be subject to change according to Covid-19 restrictions at the time.
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 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, local business owner, a long time Darlinghurst resident and a past President of the Darlinghurst Business Partnership.
The panel will be moderated by Mon Schafter, Walkley Award winning journalist and reporter for 7:30 and ABCQueer
Date and time: Sunday, 1 August 2021, 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm AEST
Location: Burdekin Hotel, 2 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
Please Note: If Sydney remains in lockdown on August 1, this forum will be live streamed. A link will be sent to everyone who has registered.
Concerns About Construction Work
Yet there are concerns that the City of Sydney’s current plans to turn Oxford Street into a ‘Cultural and Creative precinct’ will interfere with preparations for World Pride 2023.Local business owner, Terry Daly, warned the Star Observer about how damaging it would be to Oxford Street’s international image if the strip was a construction site for World Pride.
Oxford Street As The LGBTQI+ Hub
Yet Kate Wickett sees World Pride as an opportunity for community organisers and local businesses to collaborate with the City of Sydney on ways to rebuild a neglected Oxford Street.
“All levels of government have shown us their support and are with us every step of the way” says Wickett.
“All the plans we’re seeing cement Oxford Street’s place as a hub of LGBTQI+ culture and creative communities long into the future. Already we’re seeing new businesses open, and old favourite venues getting a beautiful revamp”, Wickett continued.
While Sydney World Pride and Mardi Gras will be planning the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Pride March across the Harbour Bridge, and the Parade and Party, there will be opportunities for local venues and event producers to get involved in the ‘Umbrella Festival’ that they’ve named “an abundance of pride”.