There is much more to Australia than just bush land and desert, barbeques and beer, beaches and surfing. Whether you’re gay or straight, you will undoubtedly find plenty of areas to explore and activities to participate in. As with anywhere in the world, some areas are more gay-friendly than others and if you’re interested in the Australian gay scene, it makes sense to head for the more cosmopolitan areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Gay rights activists undoubtedly faced an uphill struggle when John Howard was Prime Minister, but since his departure in 2007 steps have been taken to ensure that everyone, whatever their sexuality, has the same rights in all of the Australian states.

Getting away from the politics of being gay, if you’re looking to experience gay culture in Australia, it is definitely worth taking a trip to Sydney, as there is a wide array of events and activities to keep you busy. One of the most well-known celebrations of gay identity in Australia is Mardi Gras, which takes place from mid-February to March and has plenty of activities and events for you to enjoy. On Fair Day, you can check out the stalls and drink and eat till your heart’s content; plus you can listen to bands play and watch the dog show. Mardi Gras also has a parade that takes place in the evening and showcases a range of outrageous floats and impressive costumes.

You can also enjoy the main party where you can dance the night away or spend your time lounging by the pool at the Mardi Gras Pool Party. Also, if you’re interested in gay cinema it might be worthwhile checking out the Film Festival that takes place at the same time. Mardi Gras isn’t the only time of year when the gay scene comes alive, though, as there is also the Sydney Leather Pride that takes place in May. Plus, you have all the other attractions that Sydney has to offer the rest of the year around – from restaurants to pubs and clubs. You certainly won’t run out of things to do in Sydney, that’s for sure!

Mardi Gras may be the biggest and most popular events for members of the LGBT community, but it is not the only one and Sydney is certainly not the only location in Australia that caters for a gay clientele. Melbourne is another city with a substantial gay population and facilities and activities that appeal to people of all sexualities. There is the Melbourne Queer Film Festival to check out in September, if you’re interested in gay cinema. There is also the Midsumma Festival, an event which has been going since 1989 and offers a three week celebration of gay culture, where you can see musicals and theatre projects; look at art works; and listen to music. There is also a carnival and an opportunity to dance, making it a festival worth checking out.

If you’re heading over to Adelaide in November you can experience the Feast Festival, which is another notable celebration of gay culture that first took place in 1997 and provides you with an opportunity to watch and engage with a range of different cultural activities. There is plenty on display from dance, theatre, cabaret and literature to a number of sporting and community events that highlight the contribution of the LGBT community in Adelaide.

There are certainly plenty of gay-infused activities and events to enjoy in the large, cosmopolitan cities of Australia. You don’t have to go to all these festivals to have a good time, though, as you will undoubtedly find that there are gay-friendly areas that contain within them plenty of gay bars, restaurants, clubs and other amenities that should keep you entertained!

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