Every once in a while do you find yourself wondering if there's something more to gay life than clubbing and bar-hopping? Lord knows some don't, but for the more discerning amongst us, here's TOM’s guide to the best gay stuff in town.
Melbourne's dedicated queer bookshop Hares & Hyenas is a real treat for the literary gay. A gorgeous, minimalist space in trendy Fitzroy, H&H stands out and proud on Johnston Street. Oscar Wilde would have been very pleased indeed. No need for young closet folks to fumble furtively in the gay and lesbian section of the mainstream chains, now you can sit back and peruse the huge range of novels, non-fiction, erotica, beautiful coffee art books and DVDs in peace. If you're still a bit too nervous to pop your head in the door, thankfully they have an awesome website, with free delivery for orders over $40.
Best for… beautiful coffee table books packed full of near naked and decidedly naked men and women.
Melbourne's finest purveyor of naughty bits and pieces was formerly known as Dungeon Warehouse. Apparently they thought that would scare folks off, so some marketing genius came up with renaming it Manhaus, thereby making it sound like a German dungeon, and presumably far less scary then. Hmmmm. At the end of the day it's full of whips, chains, lubricant, leather, rubber and dildos the size of a fire hydrant. Somehow I don't think the punters are easily scared.
Best for… opening your eyes, and other things, to the intriguing possibilities of non-vanilla flavoured sex.
Overlook the name's rather unfortunate correlation to the scourge of Melbourne's gay scene and what you'll find here is a rather slick cafe in the heart of the city's southside LGBT enclave. A stalwart of the Prahran scene, Ice has kept things fresh and exciting even as Commercial Street's lost some of its glitz and glamour. A minimal yet welcoming space, there's a big shared table, banquette seating and plenty of opportunity for cruising, especially as the floor-to-ceiling windows overlook a particularly gay gym full of sweaty, heaving, buff bodies. All this and the food and coffee is good too.
Best for… Sunday afternoon recoveries with a Bloody Mary and an eyeful of man candy.
This year's fest has barely pulled the pink curtain, but you can be sure the dedicated team behind one of the world's biggest LGBT silver screen extravaganzas will be hard at it in no time gearing up for 2012. With an always diverse, always intriguing line up, the MQFF goes form strength to strength each year, and draws pretty impressive crowds too. Between the glittering party opener, always held at St Kilda's old school Astor cinema, to the Festival club at ACMI, the main venue, there's plenty of fun to be had drinking and flirting before and after the credits too.
Best for… gorging yourself on a Triple Choc pass and choosing three very different movies - try fluff, doco and foreign.
Joy 94.9 FM is Australia's only gay radio station and it's pretty darned successful too, with over 200,000 listeners. If you're gearing up for the weekend, there's always plenty of fun pop on the go, and they manage to pull in major celebs from time to time too. They scored a guts spot from Melbourne's own diva, Kylie Minogue, after running an impressive viral campaign asking her to get in touch on the release of her last album, ‘Aphrodite’. But it's not just fluffy fun stuff, with over 450 free community announcements from the grass roots groups who provide much needed support. When you consider that the station is run by volunteers, you realise just how lucky we are to have some Joy in our lives.
Best for… making you feel good about the power of pink.
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