Sydney’s early Gay Mardi Gras sprang out of a period of great social and political ferment in the late 70s/early 80s that saw the emergence of a strong gay activism and culture. As gay and lesbian people marched and demonstrated for their rights, recognition and respect, many of the very same people were forging a new wave of culture that reflected their lives, dreams and passions.

 Art exhibitions such as David McDiarmid’s Secret Love at the Hogarth Galleries in 1976, the Exhibition of Work by Homosexual and Lesbian Artists at the Watters Gallery in 1978, Willy Young’s (later William Yang) exhibition Sydneyphiles at the Australian Centre for Photography in 1977, were among the first identifiably gay exhibitions to be held in commercial galleries. In 1978, the Paris Theatre at the bottom of Oxford Street screened Images of Gays, the first major Australian gay film festival. Radical performers such as Sylvia and the Synthetics, Cabaret Conspiracy, Sideshow Theatre Company, the Gay Theatre Company and the burgeoning drag culture in the bars, demonstrated that ‘the love that dare not speak its name’ had finally found its voice. 

Once Mardi Gras began to emerge, parade workshops led by Peter Tully transformed the original street march into an international cultural phenomenon. 

And the rest, as they say, is history - and herstory!

This rich cultural history centred on Oxford Street will be celebrated by 'The Golden Mile Gallery', transforming the shop windows of some of the businesses on the strip into an outdoor exhibition accompanied by retail activations and a program of cabarets, gigs and flash mob performances.


So come along and join in history being made and remembered, as Oxford Street again resumes its place as one of the great gay streets and precincts in the world.

The Golden Mile Gallery Friday 23rd - Sunday 1 March