The 61st annual Queens Ball Awards took place on Saturday, June 25 at Brisbane’s majestic City Hall. The Queens Ball, first held on Mount Tamborine in 1962, remains the longest-running continuous LGBTIQA+ event in the world.
Record numbers attended the Ball with the largest turnout since the event’s dance party heyday in the late 80s and 90s. Patrons followed the rainbow lights to the red-carpet entry and then into the hall’s magnificent domed auditorium.
Many who couldn’t attend watched online via Brisbane Pride’s live feed. Kudos to the committee and workers responsible for the quality of the video, sound, and camera work.
Dame Sybil von Thorndyke
Wonderfully, Queens Ball founder Dame Sybil von Thorndyke was able to attend in the guise of alter-ego Laurie Deane. Dame Sybil has attended more balls than any other person. Every Ball from 1962 until 2018. Ill health and the pandemic prevented her attendance for the last few years, but Saturday night, Laurie was back.
He told me earlier this month that like Elvis, Dame Sybil had left the building.
“That dame knew how to party. I owe her much for all the fun and joy she brought me over many decades. She made my life fuller in countless ways. But she was also a demanding mistress so, I’ve packed her up, and sent her into a well-deserved retirement.”
Paul Wheeler and Bebe Gunn hosted the night’s festivities with a spectacular entertainment line-up directed by Harry K.
Over recent years, the Brisbane Pride committee worked diligently to craft an entertaining evening out of the often long and unwieldy awards ceremony. An uncomfortable truth about a night that honours very deserving members of our communities. But truth, nonetheless. I’ve both sat in the audience, and stood on the stage as MC, and witnessed the audience lose interest as the night wore on.
This year, the committee nailed it. The format and hosts kept the night moving. And the balance of entertainment and awards both entertained and ensured a respectful recognition of the awardees all the way through to the end.
Of course, every change prompts protest. But the Brisbane Pride Committee serve communities both glorious and challenging in their diversity. The efforts of those dedicated and hardworking volunteers contribute enormously to community building, inclusion, and visibility. I think anyone who ever served on a Pride committee anywhere would describe it as an often-thankless role that involves much self-sacrifice while frequently attracting harsh and unforgiving criticism. So, it was wonderful to watch Pride President Bec Johnson recognise committee members’ efforts with personal awards. Thank you to every one of you.
As always, the costumes were a highlight and this year’s inspired theme — Masquerade — prompted a truly iconic turn-out. Perhaps the time has come to recognise attendees’ efforts with an additional award beyond the much sought-after Belle of the Ball. It seems that every year of late, the costumes top those of the year before.
All-in-all, a great night. As Tamara Biddulph posted on Facebook, “Sensational evening…thank you & great work by all involved.”
61st annual Queens Ball Photo Gallery coming soon.
61st annual Queens Ball Awards
YOUNG ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
FIRST NATIONS LEADERSHIP & ENGAGEMENT AWARD
THE PROUD AWARD
COMMUNITY SOCIAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
COMMUNITY SUPPORT GROUP OF THE YEAR
COMMUNITY SPORTING GROUP OF THE YEAR
ACTIVIST OF THE YEAR
ALLY OF THE YEAR
LIFETIME ALLY AWARD
Aunty Flo Watson
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
DRAG PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
DJ OF THE YEAR
VENUE OF THE YEAR
EVENT OF THE YEAR
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
BELLE of the BALL
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