Watch out Sydney, the WA town of Broome is gunning for the title of most accepting and diverse place in Australia.
If Broome’s recent Mardi Gras is any indication, Sydney could be in for some serious competition next year.
Albeit on a much, much smaller scale.
This year’s event was a sell-out and spread across two venues.
It attracted people from around the country to see the town’s LGBTI and straight communities celebrate the region’s sexual diversity.
It kicked off with the Kimberley Queen competition at the start of the night and ended with several local burlesque acts and a performance by local drag queen Suzie Jacuzzi.
Next year, the WA town of Broome, more than 3,300km as the crow flies from Sydney, is aiming to put on its own MardI Gras parade down streets tinged red by the pindan dust.
Broome Mardi Gras organiser Lucy Falcocchio said the Shire of Broome wanted to make the town’s three-year-old celebration of the LGBTI community a much bigger event with a parade, market stalls and parties.
“They see Broome as being a really good place as somewhere to grow something like Mardi Gras and have the alternative event,” Ms Falcocchio said.
Ms Falcocchio said Broome, a north-west town known for its hard drinking, wet T-shirt competitions and extreme heat, was highly supportive of its LGBTI community.
Diversity thrives in Broome
She moved to the remote town, which has a diverse multicultural community, nine years ago from Sydney.
“It’s been a really pleasant experience,” she said.
“Coming from Sydney, you think that’s like the gay mecca of Australia, yet you still have that adversity.
“You walk down the street and you still can’t hold your partner’s hand and those PDAs (public displays of affection) still can be a bit difficult.”
Ms Falcocchio said there were parts of Sydney were an openly lesbian couple would not attract any attention, but she said Broome had surprised her with its complete acceptance of her sexuality.
Machine operator Jack Woods, 24, moved from Kalgoorlie to Broome about two years ago.
As he described it, he was coming from one rough-and-tough town to another.
“You get the banter and stuff like that, but it’s all for fun,” he said.
“Nothing ever super serious.”
Mr Woods, who came out in his hometown of Kalgoorlie, said he had been openly gay in Broome with no issue.
“I moved straight to Broome in work in heavy machinery, trades assistance in a mechanical workshop, and it definitely wasn’t a secret or anything like that, quite openly gay and I never had any dramas.”
The annual Mardi Gras has also been warmly embraced by the Indigenous LGBTI people from the town and surrounding communities.
Dwesmond Wiggan, 30, from the small community of One Arm Point north of Broome, said when he told his mother he was gay she just told him to get back to washing the dishes.
“Broome is such an amazing, multicultural community that we are all blessed that we are born a different way,” he said.
“We are so used to Asians and Aboriginal people, other mixes, Broome is a multicultural melting pot obviously.
“So when it comes to the gay community is like a given.”