The Progress Pride flag was raised last night (Friday 17 February) at Sydney Town Hall to officially mark the start of Mardi Gras and Sydney WorldPride celebrations.
In the spirit of Sydney WorldPride’s theme – gather, dream, amplify – leading members of the LGBTIQA+ communities, and their allies, came together for the ceremony.
With the largest rainbow community in Australia, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City of Sydney was proud to support the festival.
“Tonight we mark more than the beginning of the Mardi Gras season – we also celebrate the start of WorldPride,” said the Lord Mayor.
“Sydney is the ideal city for WorldPride. Ours is a city for all people, where we value culture, diversity, equality, and inclusion.”
“We’ve provided more than $1.75 million to the festival and made sure the spiritual home of the LGBTIQA+ community – Oxford Street – is looking its best.”
“The strip now features a gorgeous pink and rainbow mural which tells the history of the queer community, while the street is covered with flags, banners, stickers and signs all celebrating pride. Additionally, the rainbow crossing at Taylor Square has had a refresh,” said the Lord Mayor.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of Sydney Mardi Gras, which was born out of political action in LGBTQIA+ communities and continues to highlight important issues and lobby for change.
As part of the flag raising ceremony, the Lord Mayor also presented the Key to the City to members of the LGBTQIA+ community in recognition of their efforts in advancing the fight for equality.
“Over the past 50 years, our rainbow communities have achieved so much. We must remember it was illegal to be a homosexual until 1984, and we only achieved marriage equality five years ago,” said the Lord Mayor.
“Tonight we honour the activists, advocates and community heroes with a Key to the City in recognition of their contribution to building this community, responding to the HIV and AIDS crisis in the 80s and 90s, and advancing rights and equality,” said the Lord Mayor.
Accepting the Key, 78er and pride activist, Robyn Kennedy said: “It is a great honour to accept this key on behalf of past and present heroes of the pride movement; on behalf of our pioneer activists, our advocates, our AIDS carers, our community historians, and photographers who have kept our lived experience vital,” she said.
“And of course, our creative community who continue to drive a vibrant and unique queer culture of inclusion, diversity and, over-the-top fabulousness.”
“Our role now is to continue to live the motto that has carried us through the decades – an army of lovers and allies can never be defeated,” said Robyn.
“All eyes will be on our beautiful city as we play host to the first ever WorldPride to be held in the southern hemisphere,” added Kate Wicket, Chief Executive of Sydney WorldPride.
“An event of this magnitude could not have happened without the unbelievable support of the City of Sydney, who have been with WorldPride since we bid in 2019.”
“From the Pride Villages, to the 45th Anniversary of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras taking place on Oxford Street, the opening of the Qtopia Museum, an array of First Nations programming, events, concerts, arts and sports, it’s going to be an electric time for the city,” said Kate.
The Progress Pride flag will fly over Sydney Town Hall for the duration of Sydney WorldPride 2023. Created by non-binary artist and designer Daniel Quasar, the Progress Pride flag is a variation of the rainbow pride flag that incorporates additional colours to explicitly represent trans people and LGBTIQA+ communities of colour.
The City of Sydney is also providing more than $262,000 in support to Mardi Gras and will take part in the parade with 75 employees in a float that celebrates Oxford Street.
Image: Progress Pride Flag Raising at Sydney Town Hall on Friday 17 February 2023 – photo by Damian Shaw | City of Sydney