This year's program for the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras festival is its most diverse yet, with a range of events, shows, concerts, talks and exhibitions welcoming Sydneysiders to expand their horizons and celebrate the work of both local and international LGBTIQ+ talents and communities.
If you're keen for a night out, wonderful events like Sissy Ball and Club Briefs present an enthralling cultural escape. However, if the night life isn't for you, there are also plenty of family friendly daytime outings, as well as a number of intellectually stimulating panel discussions, covering a broad range of topics.
Long story short, there's something for everyone. Hard as it was, we did our best to round up a number of this year's festival highlights.
My Trans Story - The Next Generation
After selling out at last year's festival, My Trans Story is back with The Next Generation. Held at Carriageworks, the event will see up-and-coming members of the trans and gender non-binary community discuss personal struggles, triumphs and loves. Speakers include the fantastic Evie Macdonald, the 14 year-old who last year confronted the Prime Minister on The Project - as well as author, activist and speaker Nevo Zisin and writer Liz Duck Chong. Don't miss out on what promises to be an informative and cathartic evening of storytelling.
Saturday 23 February.
You can find more information on My Trans Story here.
Nothing's off the table for this incredible two-day event, with conversations and panel discussions broaching a series of topics impacting members of the LGBTIQ+ community. Curated by Charlie Murphy and Maeve Marsden, the event includes talks on subjects like: what it means to be non-binary, queer rights in Iraq, the aftermath of Safe Schools, the death of the gay bar, and the prohibitive cost of medically transitioning and lack of informed care available to trans, intersex and gender non-binary Australians.
Take a break from the bright lights and lose yourself in some good old-fashioned discussion.
Saturday 23 February and Sunday 24 February.
You can find more information on Queer Thinking here.
Not. To. Be. Missed. (But it has sold out, so...)
With multidisciplinary artist B'Henji's history-making Sissy Ball event now entering its second year as part of the Sydney Mardi Gras festival program, the local icon is upping the ante, flying in two of the culture's biggest names: Leiomy Maldonado and Dashaun Wesley, known respectively as the wonder woman and king of voguing.
For those who have already consumed RuPaul's Drag Race or Paris Is Burning, this event will serve up queer HISTORY - so watch and listen.
Saturday 23 February.
You can find more information on Sissy Ball here.
Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Rite
As part of the 2019 Mardi Gras program, Sydney's iconic City Recital Hall will play host to a co-presentation of Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Rite, an original choral work by American singer and composer Holcombe Waller. Stunning audiences around the world, the evening-length piece is said to invoke "remembrance and peace for the dead who suffered persecution for their sexual orientation or gender expression".
You can find more information on Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Rite here.
Queer Contemporary at National Art School
Sydney is hot. Art galleries have air conditioning. That should be reason enough to leave the house and take advantage of one of this year's most exciting creative hubs.
Held at the former site of Darlinghurst Gaol, Sydney's National Art School will become home to a wonderful program focusing on queer contemporary art this Mardi Gras season. The lineup features a number of exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions and kids activities. There will even be a pop-up bar, which is aptly named after former Darlinghurst inmate Bush Ranger Captain Moonlight and his lover, James Nesbitt.
History and art and cocktails? What more could you want?
Friday 15 February - Saturday 2 March.
You can find more information on Queer Contemporary at National Art School here.
The Rise and Fall of St George
Sydney locals won't be a stranger to the sad (but ultimately inspiring) story of George Michael's beloved inner-west mural, which was defaced by vandals in late 2017. The community rallied around the mural, writing messages of love and support over the homophobic graffiti.
A collaboration between two of Australia’s leading queer artists, pop icon Paul Mac and playwright Lachlan Philpott, The Rise and Fall of St George retells the story through the eyes of the community - offering a first-time look at the mural as it was made. The production is pegged as a celebration of our community's achievements, as well as "a thank you to all the allies who supported us, and an urgent call to arms to never let these hard-won freedoms go in these dark times".
You can find more information on The Rise and Fall of St George here.
The Butch Monologues
Presented by Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and Theatre Works, this engaging piece of theatre is not to be missed.
Pegged as a "powerful and often humorous collection of secret stories", The Butch Monologues are based on the true stories of butch-identified women living both locally and all around the world. With a cast of six actors, the monologues explore themes of sexuality, vulnerability and desire - touching on the lived experiences of "butches, masculine women, gender rebels and transmen living world-wide."
Saturday 23 February - Friday 1 March.
You can find more information on The Butch Monologues here.
An interactive and body-positive queer cabaret? Sign us all the way up!
Performed and co-written by Ross Anderson-Dohert, along with esteemed playwright Lachlan Philpott, Cake Daddy is all about living as a fat person in a fat-phobic world. This scrumptious and celebratory cabaret, directed by Alyson Campbell, refuses to apologise for taking up space, sharing the message that fat people shouldn't be sorry for not dieting or trying to change their body size.
You can find more information on Cake Daddy here.
This year's Koori Gras is bigger than ever, serving up a compelling series of arts events featuring local, interstate and international First Nations queer artists, thinkers and communities. These include creative development program Black Nulla, which sees five emerging black drag artists undertake a one-week intensive workshop, before performing their developed numbers as part of Black Nulla club night.
Monday 18 - Saturday 23 February.
You can find more information on Koori Gras here.
A live stream of the parade will be available on SBS On Demand and the SBS Twitter account andFacebook page on Saturday 2 March. SBS Arabic 24 will report live from the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade to Arabic-speaking audiences around Australia.
You can watch the SBS parade coverage on Sunday March 3rd at 8.30pm.
Watch Queer Screen Presents: Thinking Queer on SBS On Demand.