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An Insider’s Guide to LGBTQ+ Sydney

Tour guide Wonder Mama talks Sydney’s legendary Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations, where to go in LGBTQ+ Sydney, and her fabulous Drag Queen Oxford Street Walking Tour.

An Insider’s Guide to LGBTQ+ Sydney
Hi, I'm Lauren!

Lauren is a Mexico City–based writer, editor, and translator from Yorkshire with bylines at CNN, BBC Travel, and Al Jazeera. She’s currently working on her first full-length literary translation in between harassing her cat, drinking smuggled Yorkshire Tea, and blogging about Latin American literature at leyendolatam.com.

The Fabulous Wonder Mama has been, in her own words, “astounding Sydney and the world since 2015 when I first appeared in the world-famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.” And things have only gotten better for “Sydney’s Glambassador and part-time superhero” since then, as she’s released her very own illustrated storybook called The Fabulous Story of Wonder Mama and even “won an award or two.”

But as well as being a writer, superhero, and drag queen extraordinaire, Wonder Mama is also one of Sydney’s most extravagant tour guides. Since late-2019, she’s led visitors on walking excursions around the Aussie city’s most famous LGBTQ+ destination, Oxford Street. On one of Wonder Mama’s 2-hour-long tours, you’ll be taken to some of Sydney’s most important LGBTQ+ institutions—from hotels and bars to bookshops and swimwear stores—all while learning about the city’s colorful LGBTQ+ characters, drag queens, and activists.

“The Sydney LGBTIQ+ scene is constantly evolving as each generation emerges and grows,” says Wonder Mama. “We have a hugely diverse and thriving community in Australia that welcomes the world with open arms!”

So, if you’re looking for a fun-filled, informative immersion into LGBTQ+ Sydney—from past to present—Wonder Mama’s your gal. Like she says: “Have fun, say hello, and don’t be shy!”

Wonder Mama crosses a rainbow crosswalk in Sydney.
The fabulously attired Wonder Mama crosses a rainbow crosswalk.Photo Credit: The Fabulous Wonder Mama

Your guide to LGBTQ+ Sydney

“Sydney is a friendly, open, and beautiful city with an amazingly diverse and multicultural society. We welcome people from all around the world and the Rainbow Family is no exception.”

Sydney’s LGBTQ+ neighborhoods

“The inner city, Darlinghurst [home to Sydney’s famed Oxford Street], Surry Hills, Newtown, and the surrounds are colourful and diverse areas with character, which also host an eclectic mash of creative and cool creatures,” according to Wonder Mama. “Anyone travelling to this great city needs to visit these neighbourhoods.”

Where to learn about Sydney’s LGBTQ+ history

“Sydney’s Oxford Street! The Stonewall Hotel! The Imperial Erskineville!” says Wonder Mama. “Make sure you catch any number of exhibitions, talks, and discussions being held around city at any time to learn about the rich history of our community.” And, of course, you can’t go wrong with Wonder Mama’s Fabulous Oxford Street Walking Tour.

Wonder Mama takes selfie with a tour group in Sydney.
Wonder Mama and a tour group take to the streets of Sydney.Photo Credit: The Fabulous Wonder Mama

The best places to get a drink and meet others

Some of the must-visit places on Wonder Mama’s list include the Oxford Hotel, the Stonewall Hotel, Palms on Oxford Street, the Imperial Erskineville, Universal, and the Beresford.

Must-visit LGBTQ+-owned institutions

Bookish LGBTQ+ travelers (and allies) will want to hit up the Bookshop Darlinghurst, while fashion forward visitors should make a pit stop at Aussie Boys and House of Priscilla on Oxford Street. For food, look no further than Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salon, according to Wonder Mama. Finally, if you’re looking for some leather, don’t miss Sax Fetish.

Tiwi Island sistagirls celebrating Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia
Tiwi Island sistagirls at Sydney's annual Mardi Gras festivities.Photo Credit: f o g a a s / Shutterstock

All about Sydney Pride

How Sydney celebrates Pride

“Sydney Pride has been running for almost 50 years and is a month-long celebration of Pride during the month of June,” says Wonder Mama. Each year, there are a host of events held throughout Sydney, including drag shows, concerts, performances, and family-friendly spectaculars.

A brief history of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Sydney Pride isn’t the city’s only LGBTQ+ spectacular though. Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras—one of the largest LGBTQ+ celebrations in the world—is a 2-week long festival held in late-February through early March each year.

“Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is a commemorative and historical celebration of Sydney’s very first Mardi Gras Parade [turned riot] that happened in June 1978 and has been running every year since,” according to Wonder Mama. “It’s a cultural celebration of the LBGTI+ community with exhibitions, performances, parties, movie festivals, and so much more! Highlights of the Mardi Gras Festival are Fair Day and, of course, the Mardi Gras Parade.”

The importance of Pride and Mardi Gras

“Pride is just as important to me as ever,” says Wonder Mama. “Our community gets to celebrate its diversity, coming together for events which are indeed like “Gay Christmas” for everyone to celebrate, allies, and friends alike.”

“We’ve achieved the amazing milestone of marriage equality here in Australia, but there’s still a lot of work to do in terms of accepting our community and its diversity by those outside the rainbow family. As Wonder Mama—the Superhero Glambassador—that’s what I hope to inspire people to do.”

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