Travel writer based in UK. Liz Taylor wannabe and aspiring food critic with a penchant for sweet sherry, Romanian street dogs and fancy fridge magnets. Visited 35+ countries so far and counting.
Sydney is one of the world’s friendliest and safest cities for the LGBTQ community. Here is Urban Adventures’ guide to having the ultimate LGBTQ-related good time in Australia’s camp capital…
Although Australia was late to join the same-sex marriage party but nevertheless, Sydney is a very gay-friendly city. In fact, Expedia recently ranked Sydney as the no. 1 gay-friendly city in the world. This means LGBTQ people are safe to wander anywhere in the city, particularly in the inner eastern suburbs like Darlinghust and Paddington, and inner western suburbs of Newtown. Places like Oxford St in Darlinghurst, Crown St in Surry Hills, and King St in Newtown are where you’ll see Sydney’s LGBTQ community at its most visible, with an abundance of bars, cafes and businesses sporting rainbow-coloured ‘Safe Place’ stickers in their front windows. Sydney is a generally safe city to visit and queer visitors are no exception, although everyone should keep their wits about them on a night out.
Things to do
Don’t miss Oxford Street, Darlinghurst where the first LGBTQ march was held in solidarity with international gay Pride in 1978. The resulting arrests and violence that took place that night made the participants determined that a Mardi Gras should be organized for the next year. The Sydney Mardi Gras is now considered one of the world’s biggest LGBTQ events.
The Imperial Hotel in Erskineville, just down from King Street, Newtown, is the spiritual home of Priscilla, Queen of the desert, and still has drag shows to commemorate the iconic characters.
Discover LGBTQ Sydney on Urban Adventures’ Forbidden Sydney tour
From the gay governor whose conduct scandalised the British Empire to the bright lights of the gay strip on Oxford Street, hear the stories and see the sites that define Sydney as one of the friendliest cities for LGBTQ culture in the world. Book your tour here.
The Rainbow Crossing is the first pedestrian crossing in the world to be the colour and shape of a bona fide rainbow! Perfect for that Sydney-selfie, just be careful and look where you’re going before you get your phone/camera out to snap a picture!
The Rusty Rabbit
This all-day breakfast venue is popular with the LGBTQ crowd. Just one block from central Oxford Street, the food here is almost as good looking as the barmen.
Drag Brunch Sydney
A 2 hour bottomless brunch that includes some fabulous entertainment from some of Australia’s premier drag acts.
The Naked Barber
A unique experience awaits inside Richard Savvy’s private studio! This is hair removal but with a side of fetish play. Private parties, events and role play are all all catered for. Straight, bisexual, transgender, gay and couples of any kind are all welcome.
Famous LGBTQ residents
The first homosexual Governor of NSW, Lord Beauchamp is probably one of Sydney’s most famous members of the LGBTQ community (although they didn’t call it that back then), he was governor between 1899 and 1901, and was famous for his raucous parties at Government House. He was outed as a homosexual on his return to England. More recently, Ian Thorpe, Olympic swimming champion, Portia De Rossi the Arrested Development actress who is married to Ellen De Generes, the actress Ruby Rose and the legendary Peter Allen, former husband of LGBTQ-fave Liza Minnelli.
Once a popular gay and lesbian watering hole, now has a mixed crowd for gay-friendly patrons. Free entry. Located in Erskineville (turn left at King Street, Newtown).
Famous for live shows and Bingay – gay bingo nights on Tuesdays. Free entry. Located on King Street, Newtown
Famous for it’s good-looking boy crowd, cheap Italian eats ($30 for a shared table), and it’s Sunday evening parties. Free entry.
Pretty much anything goes at this nightclub that boasts one of the best sound systems in Sydney. There’s a large club upstairs called the Arena, and a more intimate performance space downstairs call the Vortex, both of which offer a clubbing experience that is probably the best in Sydney. Located in Darlinghurt
Sydney Mardi Gras
This is one of the world’s biggest and most well known LGBTQ parties in the world, aiming to throw the spotlight on LGBTQ culture, creativity and community. It’s held each February, see their website for more details.
Held in June to coincide with the majority of world Pride events, Sydney Pride is an (almost) month long celebration of the LGBTQ community that culminates with a massive closing party. Expect a whole month of parties, lectures, workshops, tours and fundraising events. See the Sydney Pride website for the latest events listings.
Queer Screen Film Festival
Held every September, The Queer Screen Film Festival showcases the best of LGBTQ film-making in Australia and beyond.
It started out as a series of ultra inclusive, ultra fun party nights at the Gladstone Hotel but over the past 3 years, Heaps Gay has evolved into so much more than that. Kat Dopper, who started Heaps Gay in 2013 now does regular collabs with various art organisations and annual events such as the Sydney Mardi Gras. Check out their website to find out what they’ve got coming up on their always exciting schedule.
Canned fruit from concentrate
Home to Sydney’s ‘juiciest’ queer party, Canned Fruit can be found every Wednesday at the Secret Garden Bar, knocking out some of the best tunes in town.
Lemons with a twist
A safe space for lesbians to connect in a relaxed and fun environment. It’s a monthly event and costs $20 to enter. Be sure to check out their website for upcoming dates.