Featured artist: Shannon Crees

'Queer' Marrickville

Featured artist: Shannon Crees
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'Queer' Marrickville

Council at the 2014 Sydney Mardi Gras

 

In the 2011 census, 7.4% of all couples living together in Marrickville were listed as same-sex, the second-highest proportion for any local government area in Australia, behind only the City of Sydney. For many, the area is seen as a haven where same-sex couples walking hand-in-hand down the street is more the norm than an unusual occurrence.

From the early 1960s, some of the first semi-covert gay and lesbian social groups sprang up in the Marrickville area. Groups such as the Pollys held dances at Petersham Town Hall, whilst a regular ‘gay roller disco’ was also organised in Petersham.

A range of LGBTIQ support organisations have since been established in Marrickville, starting with Tiresias House (now the Gender Centre), a refuge for transgender people which opened in 1983. Other important institutions include the Pride Centre, New Mardi Gras, the Metropolitan Community Church and the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service. In the more open atmosphere leading up to and following the legalisation of homosexual relations in 1984, a vibrant gay and lesbian nightlife rivalling Oxford Street also grew up around the Marrickville area, in particular on Newtown’s King Street, which now rivals Darlinghurst as a hub of the LGBTIQ community. 

 

Simone Curry: “If you walk out the door onto the main street of Marrickville now, I’ll bet you $50 you’ll see a gay person in the next ten minutes. Either lesbian, or gay, or transgender. Or you’ll see a goth, or a freak, or a feral. You know what I mean? You’re going to see difference, and people are just used to it now. It’s just normal here. I find Marrickville very accepting.”

Garry Trotter: “I think it’s much easier to be a gay person here and there’s lots more acceptance. It was far less accepting and far less easy to be openly gay even in places like Marrickville than it is now.”

Brent Thorpe: “It’s happened so gradually, but the last 20 years it’s completely different here. If anyone had said to me when I was a kid, ‘You’re going to do this show, with drag and nudity and bad language and all that, and you’re going to perform it in Marrickville for three weeks,’ I would’ve said ‘You’re nuts.’”