The Vibrant Heart of LGBTQIA+ Sydney has a new name, is mid-makeover, and getting ready for her close-up!
Sydney’s Oxford Street is getting a lot of attention lately with grand plans unveiled for upgrades and dozens of new businesses being enticed to the area.
But that doesn’t mean the Pink Mile is painting over her culture or her story – elements that make this area beloved of the LGBTQIA+ community the world over.
“The area around Oxford Street has always been a place that people gravitate to,” says long time resident, business owner and Chair of Rainbow Precinct Inc, Shane Warren.
“It’s the original night-club area of Sydney and a place where everyone and anyone is welcomed.”
‘Rainbow Precinct’ is the new name for the district around Taylor Square and Oxford St and the famous Rainbow Crossing.
It’s part of an ambitious, multi-million dollar program called Uptown, spearheaded by the NSW Government and the Office of the 24hr Commissioner, Mike Rodrigues.
The aim is to identify and encourage areas across Sydney to explore their identities and create exciting destinations.
Rainbow Precinct is part of Uptown phase one and is “a testament to the power of culture, diversity, and acceptance,” says Rodrigues.
“We are proud to elevate this important Sydney story through our Uptown Program, an initiative designed to celebrate the unique identities of local areas all across greater Sydney.
The City of Sydney too, has plans for the area, having unveiled their Social and Cultural Place Strategy in late 2022 and listing 14 buildings in the area as heritage – including Stonewall, the Colombian and Kinselas.
Council has also commenced an Archive Project to be steered by Rebbell Barnes that will feature the photography of Michael Glynn, C Moore Hardy, Mazz Image and Jamie Dunbar.
Public art projects for the Rainbow Precinct include the installation of Progress Flags and the Burdekin Hotel mural, with more artworks to be announced in coming months.
And on October 11, Council handed over the management of their recently unveiled Pride Business Charter program to the Rainbow Precinct.
“In all this it would be easy for the space to lose its connection to LGBTIQA+ identity that has kept it strong over these years,” says Warren.
“This is why we are excited to champion the Pride Business Charter as we encourage business, existing and new, to commit to the four principles of the charter.
“When we honour the history of the area, work collaboratively to ensure the LGBTIQA+ are safe and supported, increase employment and business opportunities for LGBTIQA+people then we continue to have the Oxford Street we all know and love – everyone needs a home ground, a safe turf to come to where they can become their true selves”.
In September, the keys to the old Darlinghurst Police Station behind Taylor Square were officially given over to the committee for QTOPIA, Sydney’s Queer History + Culture Centre, which plans to open in time for next year’s Mardi Gras in February 2024.
For many, the Rainbow Precinct holds a special place in their hearts as the home of the internationally renowned Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, which has grown from its humble beginnings into a spectacular event that draws visitors from all corners of the globe.
Beyond the glitter and glam, the district also stands as a testament to the enduring power of LGBTQIA+ businesses. These establishments have played a pivotal role in nurturing a sense of belonging and providing safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ individuals, ensuring that the spirit of Pride is never too far away.
With an additional three city blocks being renovated and dozens of new businesses flocking to Oxford St and the laneways around it, it looks like a new lease of life is indeed on the cards for this old showgirl.
-Lorraine Lock is the Rainbow Precinct Co-ordinator
Go to www.rainbowprecinct.com.au or email email@example.com for more information or to get involved.
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