Blue Mountains to turn pink for Pride


Winners of the Best Couple prize at a previous Three Sisters Costume Ball. Photo: Julie Martin/Three Sisters Social Group.

The spectacular Blue Mountains region on Sydney’s doorstep is gearing up for the inaugural Blue Mountains Pride festival – a packed June long weekend calendar of dance, drag, art, bushwalks, picnics and more.

There’s something special about the Blue Mountains. It’s a place that draws people in. It’s done so for millennia, as a sacred place for the Dharug and Gundungurra peoples.

Since European settlement, it’s become one of the nation’s prime tourist spots, captivating visitors with its stunning mountains and canyons, pristine forests, historic towns and villages, and quirky culture.

LGBTQI+ people have long been prominent in the mix, which will be underscored by the inaugural Blue Mountains Pride festival this June long weekend.

An umbrella festival comprising pre-existing events as well as new experiences, the festival has its roots in the region’s renowned Queen’s Birthday long weekend LGBTQI+ celebrations, explained Blue Mountains Pride representative Larry Singer.

“The King’s Birthday long weekend just doesn’t have the same ring to it,” laughed Singer. “The time seemed right to rebrand.”

Another reason for the rebrand is that newer activities will be joining the long weekend’s established events.

“It’s expanding beyond what we’ve previously had over the long weekend,” said Singer. “It used to be bentART, the Three Sisters Ball, Blackheath Disco and usually a bushwalk from the Bush Lemons. But it already seems to be growing.

“This year, a picnic is being planned by the trans and gender diverse community – and we’re talking to the Rainbow Families group too.”

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said the festival was a natural follow-on from Sydney hosting WorldPride last year and a testament to the Blue Mountains’ history as a haven for LGBTQI+ people.

“Following the success of Sydney WorldPride in 2023, it’s exciting to see our local LGBTQI+ community organisations bringing all the events held on the June long weekend under the banner of Blue Mountains Pride,” Greenhill told QNews.

“Blue Mountains City Council has a long and proud history of supporting our LGBTQI+ community. For more than a decade, we’ve been raising the Rainbow (now Progress Pride) Flag to recognise IDAHOBIT on 17 May. We also fly the flag on the weekend of the Mardi Gras Parade. We actively supported marriage equality and have stood up to the attacks on LGBTQI+ people occurring through challenges to library collections and rainbow story time,” he said.

Blue Mountains City Councillor Claire West – a member of the LGBTQI+ community – said the Trans Winter Picnic, hosted by Trans and Gender Diverse Blue Mountains, was especially notable.

“I’d like to offer my congratulations to the newest group that is involved in Blue Mountains Pride: Trans and Gender Diverse Blue Mountains,” she said.

“I’m profoundly grateful for the space they’re providing for a demographic that has a great need for support and care.”

Singer said the picnic would be a “very important” part of the festival, noting a recent increase in transphobia around the world.

On the positive side, Blue Mountains Pride and the growth of LGBTQI+ representation in regional areas highlighted encouraging changes, he said.

“In the ’80s and ’90s, you fled the homophobic small towns and went to Sydney to discover yourself. Some of us are now leaving Sydney because we feel comfortable in the smaller towns,” said Singer, who moved to the Blue Mountains from Sydney in 2015.

“I think there’s a bit of an exodus from Sydney to the regions – and also that younger people are feeling safer and more comfortable staying in the smaller towns.”

BLUE MOUNTAINS PRIDE FESTIVAL EVENTS

bentART

After several years of Covid disruptions and changes, the annual bentART exhibition is back in full force, taking its place as one of the key elements of Blue Mountains Pride.

“When Covid hit, the exhibition went online for two years, then for the next two years it was a combination of online and in gallery,” said bentART president Susan Robbins. “This year, we’ve decided we don’t need the online anymore, so it’s all in the physical gallery.”

Open to all LGBTQI+ artists who live in Australia, this will be the 19th annual bentART exhibition.

“Normally it’s just over the long weekend but it’s a lot of work to have an exhibition open for just two-and-a-half days, so this year we’ve decided to extend it for another week,” said Robbins.

A judging panel will assess exhibitors’ works, with cash prizes for the winner, runner-up and highly commended entries. Artworks displayed during bentART will be on sale to the public.

BentART 2024 will launch at 5.30pm Friday, 7 June (invitation-only opening, due to space restrictions) at Rex Livingstone Art + Objects, 182-184 Katoomba Street, Katoomba. It will continue as a free, general admission event from Saturday, 8 June to Sunday, 16 June. Visit www.bentart.com.au for details.

Blackheath Disco

The annual Blackheath Disco is always a fabulous night of music and fun. Casual, friendly and a little bit naughty, this year’s disco will feature music by DJ Shorty and entertainment from Frock Hudson – one of Australia’s top drag talents.

The event is BYO, with punters encouraged to bring their own alcoholic drinks. Water, soft drinks and snacks will be available for purchase.

This year, there’s a big change: the Blackheath Disco won’t be held in Blackheath!

“The Blackheath Hall is getting a facelift, so the Blackheath Disco will actually be in Wentworth Falls this year, at the Wentworth Falls School of Arts,” explained Larry Singer.

“It’ll be the same fun evening that you know and love,” he promised.

The Blackheath Disco will run from 7pm to midnight on Saturday, 8 June at the Wentworth Hall School of Arts, 217-219 Great Western Highway, Wentworth Falls. Visit www.threesisterssocial.asn.au/disco for tickets ($35 plus booking fee, $40 at the door) and info.

Bush Lemons Bushwalk

A Blue Mountains bushwalking and outdoors group formed in 1996, the Bush Lemons predominantly identify as lesbian but “welcome all women who identify as queer, bisexual, non-binary, transgender”, according to their website.

As part of the Blue Mountains Pride festival, the Lemons will be hosting a bushwalk open to all on Saturday, 8 June.

The time and location was yet to be announced at time of writing but one thing’s already sure: with the Blue Mountains hosting some of Australia’s most beautiful and dramatic scenery, fans of the natural world should mark the date in their diaries!

The Bush Lemons bushwalk will be held on Saturday, 8 June. Times and locations TBA. Visit www.bushlemons.com for updates.

Family Fun Day

Hosted by Blue Mountains Rainbow Families, which provides a local support network for LGBTQI+ parents and their children, a Family Fun Day will be part of the festival. Details were yet to be announced at time of writing.

Details of the Family Fun Day will be published at www.facebook.com/bluemountainspride. Blue Mountains Rainbow Families maintains a private Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/119548581432286.

Trans Winter Picnic

An important new addition to the Blue Mountains LGBTQI+ scene, the first ever Trans Winter Picnic will be held at one of the best picnic spots in the Blue Mountains: the gorgeous Wentworth Falls Lake.

Organised by Trans and Gender Diverse Blue Mountains, details were being finalised at time of writing, but event planners told QNews the picnic would be “a family friendly event” and that “there will be a back-up plan in case of wet weather”.

The Trans Winter Picnic will be held at Wentworth Falls Lake, Sinclair Crescent, Wentworth Falls, from 10am Sunday, 9 June. Check www.facebook.com/tgdbluemountains for details.

-For more info on the Blue Mountains Pride festival, visit www.facebook.com/bluemountainspride or www.instagram.com/blue.mountains.pride

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Peter Hackney

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *