“It’s about bringing a multiplicity of voices together from across the world and both celebrating and advocating,” says Kate Wickett, CEO of Sydney WorldPride and the first woman to hold the position. She describes the upcoming event, which is set to take place from 17 February to 5 March, as a “party with purpose” that exists to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community at the same time as highlighting the issues affecting it. “And so, yes, we celebrate, but we unite, and we’re also going to be advocating and discussing some pretty difficult issues and challenges and I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive,” she tells GAY TIMES.
Licensed by InterPride, WorldPride is awarded to a different host city every 2-3 years, with previous locations including London, New York and Toronto. GAY TIMES caught up with Kate and Drag Race/Australian icon Courtney Act, who is going to be hosting the opening ceremony, at the international launch of Sydney WorldPride to discuss what attendees can expect from the highly anticipated event.
With the event taking place in Sydney, it comes as no surprise that it will be “unashamedly” Australian. “Well, this is the first time that WorldPride is going to be hosted in the Southern Hemisphere, so we are particularly proud to be inviting the world to Gadigal land, which is the land of our First Nations people in Sydney, to celebrate everything in our region and everything that’s beautiful about Sydney and our landscapes, our culture, our people, but also in the Asia Pacific region,” Kate further explains. It will intertwine Australian culture with some of the city’s most well-known locations to create a “full city activation” that people from all over the world can get involved in. This includes a Pride March along the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a Bondi Beach Party, among many other things.
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‘Party with purpose’
As well as hosting some of the fiercest parties on the planet, Sydney WorldPride will have a major focus on human rights and equality. Kate says its three-day-long human rights conference is the “cornerstone event for the festival” and will be an immersive experience including networking events, keynote speeches and interactive workshops. LGBTQ+ people from all over the world will come together to tackle the major issues facing the community through discussing them and developing the actions needed to drive positive change. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, is among the more than 60 local and international speakers already confirmed for the conference.
‘A first for any WorldPride’
Ultra Violet, which takes place on 3 March, is the premier event for LGBTQ+ women at Sydney WorldPride. “It’s curated by women, all women performers, but everyone is welcome,” Courtney explains. It will see the city’s Town Hall transformed into an immersive party event featuring drag queens, burlesque, DJs and a special guest line-up that will soon be announced. Kate says that she is “personally very proud” to have an event with a focus on women taking place at Sydney WorldPride, something she says is “a first for any WorldPride”. She adds: “I’ve been to dozens and dozens of Prides around the world and women are always an afterthought, if there’s an event at all.”
‘Highlighting emerging and emerged artists in Australia’
Sydney WorldPride will be starting and finishing in style, with opening and closing ceremonies both held at The Domain. “I’m going to be hosting the opening along with Casey Donovan, who’s an amazing Australian artist,” Courtney shares. Attendees and viewers alike can expect the ceremonies to encapsulate what the event is all about, with musical performances and important messages from prominent figures among the festivities. Kate adds that a focus of the opening in particular will be to “highlight emerging and emerged artists in Australia,” which she is “utterly thrilled” will be broadcast live around the nation on ABC TV.
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‘First Nations lens to everything we do’
The upcoming celebrations will have a focus on First Nations, the people with familial ties to the groups that lived in Australia before British colonisation. “I know the First Nations rights, events and visibility are hugely important to queer people in Australia and the intersection of queer identity and First Nations identity is something that I know that Sydney WorldPride and so much of the community are so engaged in,” Courtney explains. Kate says that Sydney WorldPride has an advisory panel in order to “have a First Nations lens to everything we do.” This runs all the way through to the design, which was created by a First Nations lesbian in the city. Events like Blak & Deadly: The First Nations Gala Concert are open to everyone, but are made by and for the First Nations People to ensure that, as Kate says, there is “at least one event that they can see themselves in or represented by.”
You can find more information about Sydney WorldPride by clicking here.
Tickets for the upcoming events go on sale on 15 July and can be found here.