First published on 24 May 2012. Updated on 25 May 2012.
Time Out is listing it up Sydney-style with the top ten people, places and things that make the Sydney LGBT scene go around – whether they get the deserved recognition, or not. Here are our nominess for Sydney’s gay icons right about now.
You may claim to be over the Oxford Hotel, or grossed out by Stonewall or, mysteriously, banned from the Midnight Shift – but no gay man or woman this side of the Pacific Ocean can deny the pull and power of Oxford Street. Since the ’70s the strip has provided Sydney’s LGTB community with a place for safe expression and political activism. There’s a reason that one of the world’s biggest gay pride parades cleaves its way down old Oxford once a year: it may well be the world’s gayest couple of blocks and we love it!
We realise that almost any politically oppressed group could list GetUp! in their top ten, but, since the release of that super-viral, super-cute (in a blokey way) Marriage Equality advert last year, ‘It’s Time’, Time Out thought it necessary to show these guys some love. In fact, GetUp! has been campaigning for the rights of LGTB Australians almost since their inception in Sydney in 2005 when they formed to combat the Howard Government’s fourth re-election. From sending out roses on Valentine’s Day to organising dinner dates between the Prime Minister and various LGTB couples and petitioning the public on a regular basis, GetUp! Has kept LGTB issues at the forefront of our minds and the media’s reportage.
Judge, academic and all-round over-achiever, Michael Kirby makes the list and then some. The first openly gay member of the Australian High Court, Kirby has worked tirelessly throughout his long and illustrious career for the just treatment of lesbian and gay people around the country and the world. Despite numerous attempts to assassinate his character over the years (including some pretty nasty allegations in the early 2000s), Kirby has kept his head held high and maintains a sense of dignity and decorum that we could only dream of having. Kirby is definitely our role-model of choice.
Far be it from us to exclude our competitors – and they’re not really – we have to tip our hat to the master/mistress of gay street-press in Sydney: SX. Launched in 1991, along with a whole host of gay street press publications around the country, SX has been gracing the newsagencies, record stores and streets of inner Sydney to our consistent delight. A perfect cocktail of news, reviews, features and event listings, SX comprises all that is gay and fun in Sydney and simultaneously sponsors some of Time Out’s favourite gay events around town. We're loving all of Sydney's gay media really, from SX to the Star Observer to samesame.com.au.
A one-woman powerhouse, Kerryn Phelps is one of this city’s gay institutions. The first LGTB person (and woman, we might add) to become president of the Australian Medical Association, Phelps is now spearheading the alternative medicine issue as the president of the Australian Integrative Medicine Association. On top of her professional success, Phelps is a member of the Order of Australia and a vocal presence within the media, discussing both health and LGBT issues. How Phelps manages to do all this and actually practice medicine, Time Out will never now – we’re just happy in the knowledge that people like Kerryn are out there with our best interests at heart.
The Imperial Hotel
The Imperial is Sydney’s self-proclaimed “Home of Priscilla” and Time Out can’t help but agree. As well as being home to our city’s most hilarious drag queens, the Imperial has a rich history stretching back into the scene’s seminal days. Purchased by the iconic gay club owner, Dawn O’Donnell, in 1983, the Imperial marked the beginning of the Inner West’s gay revival. After a recent – and very deftly handled – facelift, the pub is back to its old tricks with countless LGTB events to whet the appetite of young and old. Time Out recommends drag queen karaoke…no explanation is necessary.
Sydney’s contemporary answer to the Renaissance man, Brendan Maclean is a singer, actor, radio personality and Tweetmaster. Most of you will recognise him from his weekly Triple J appearances, but Brendan’s repertoire extends far beyond this. Time Out’s favourite talent has got to be Maclean’s ridiculously up-to-date Twitter account; his smart phone must be surgically attached to his hand. We love his hilarious retorts to anything remotely anti-equality. As well as being a media mogul in the making, Maclean is an award-winning songwriter whose latest music video is turning heads as we speak (or read or whatever we’re doing).
While the jury is still out on whether or not the bard sat on our side of the fence, Tommy Murphy is more than appropriate to represent gay Sydney in the world of the stage. The famed playwright is behind the award-winning Strangers in Between and the mega-successful, ultra-beautiful Holding the Man, which won the hearts of theatre-goers worldwide. While Murphy is committed to giving an artistic voice to the experiences of LGTB Australians, he doesn’t stop there – Murphy’s plays speak to the universal experiences we all share and, in so doing, connect the gay community with every other community out there.
No list would be complete without Sydney’s most popular app, apart from the one where you can check your bank balance. Despite the sleazy undertones that prudes like to impose on this marvelous piece of tech, Grindr (which has been with us since ’09) has connected gay men like never before. We might sound naïve, but Grindr is actually a good place to make friends, especially for those living in not-so-gay-friendly parts of the city. Of course, this is a ‘use with caution’ sort of deal but, with a responsible attitude, Grindr is the perfect substitute while we wait for the gays to finally develop telepathy.
Who doesn’t love a good jock? Matthew Mitcham may have been born in Brisbane but we’re gonna claim his our own. (He lives here after all.) With the Olympics so close, Time Out is excited to see the career of this openly gay and very talented young man unfold. Mitcham first made headlines in 2008 for coming out publicly while attempting to qualify for the Games then. Since, Mitcham has proved himself as a consummate sportsman and excellent role-model who also happens to have a shiny gold medal. Big things await, so get cheering.
Now, we're absolutely positive we're missing a couple of hundred awesome Sydneysiders or Sydney things and phenomena, and we'd like you to let us know. Take to our comments section: who are your Sydney gay icons?