As you might’ve heard, Sydney WorldPride is coming in hot and let me tell you one thing: it’s going to be fkn fabulous. My feet are already sore in anticipation, so start breaking in your platform boots now. 

With Syd set to host the first ever WorldPride in the Southern Hemisphere and Mardi Gras celebrating its 45th birthday, there is simply so much going on. 

Luckily for you, I’ve prepped a handy dandy gay’s guide to WorldPride. Trust me, you’ll need it. 

Step 1: Get around some queer history 

It’s the 45th year of Mardi Gras in 2023 and of course, the parade we know and love today has been through some significant changes since it first began. 

The first Mardi Gras was in 1978, when the queer community held a festival on Oxford street which was targeted by police. Surprise surprise. I’m so shocked!

Each year, the First Nations community leads the Mardi Gras Parade. They’re followed by the 78ers — people who were there during that first parade. 

Paraders were subject to police brutality and 53 were arrested. Then, the Sydney Morning Herald published the full names, addresses and workplaces (!!!) of the people arrested. The publication actually apologised for that decision back in 2016. 

Alas, it wasn’t the last time the SMH would handle an outing story incredibly poorly.

I learned about all this on a walking tour of Oxford Street and Darlington hosted the fabulous drag queen Wanda Mama.

I’d deffo recommend using the time getting to grips with Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ history. Personally, it’s made me look at Oxford Street in a whole new light — and made me lament the lack of gay clubs. More ploise!

You’ll also be able to visit Qtopia, a museum of Queer History in the Bandstand at Darlinghurst’s Green Park. Part of the exhibition will also be held in Sydney Art School.

It will recreate the infamous Ward 17, the ward in St Vincent’s hospital where people with HIV and AIDS were treated during the AIDS epidemic. 

WorldPride is the perfect opportunity to educate yourself about the history of both liberation and systemic oppression, and what needs to be done today to protect and uplift the marginalised members of our community.

Step 2: Walk, walk, fashion baby

It’s time to vajazzle some comfy sneakers ‘cos holy fuck, there’s a lot going on. Respect to anyone who can dance in heels at the Domain Dance Party.

Personally, I’m planning to put the concept of Sydney as a “walkable city” to the test over WorldPride. As the Scissor Sisters famously said in “Let’s Have A Kiki”, “no cabs, nowhere”. 

As well as the comfy footwear, in my opinion there’s legit no better time to try out a fun new look.

Sydney is essentially turning into Gay Utopia for a month, so it’s time to experiment. Whip out the fishnets/assless chaps/cosplay/fishnets/corsets/tasteful and non-tasteful nipple pasties/camp patterns — follow your heart. I will be expecting 10s across the board from the entire city. 

Who knows, maybe you’ll be out walking the streets of Syd, bump into Katie, Josette and Naomi from MUNA, fall in love with one of them and then end up at Phoebe Bridgers and Paul Mescal’s wedding. Always be prepared.

And in the words of RuPaul Charles, I don’t want to see any fucking H&M!

Step 3: Remember your essentials

In this order: eco-friendly glitter, water, painkillers, bandaids, lube, condoms-and-or-dental-dams, a winning smile.

Step 4: Be a lil queer tourist

It’s going to be an intense month of fun, so make sure you’re booking in a wee bit of relaxation time too.

So if you’ve never been, I would highly recommend the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. 

It’s a gorgeous spot to lie amidst the flowers, take in the world and decompress. Plus, I can’t think of anywhere in Sydney which smells better.

Talk about the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the CBD — and the lingering smell of poppers. 

For WorldPride, the Calyx in the centre of the Botanic Garden will be putting on a special rainbow display — simply stunning. 

I also recently had the opportunity to try out BridgeClimb, which is very much the opposite of relaxing but a 10/10 way to see all of Sydney. 

As someone with a crippling fear of heights, this was quite a scary experience. But it’s all worth it at the summit, ‘cos you get to enjoy the absolutely stoonin views of Sydney Harbour including the OG camp icon Sydney Opera House. 

For WorldPride there’s a special Pride Climb where, spoiler alert, you’ll be met by two drag queens at the top of the Bridge.

Here’s Your Easy Breezy Five Step Guide To Navigating Sydney WorldPride By Me, A Known Gay
Image: Supplied / Destination NSW

It is truly a testament to the power of lash and wig glue.

Step 5: Get Gay Married 

The 2023 Mardi Gras also commemorates five years of the marriage equality plebiscite. Five years on, I’m still angry that Malcolm Turnbull made us all do a bloody postal vote, but I digress.

I reckon it would be pretty bloody iconic to have a gay marriage during Mardi Gras to celebrate the anniversary and also, you know, love. Truly the power move to end all power moves. 

WorldPride isn’t a competition but let’s face it, you’d win. 

In short, it’s time to get fkn excited. And invest in some top-notch ankle support. 

Kathleen Farmilo attended a number of these activities as a guest of Destination NSW.

Image: Getty Images / Don Arnold