Oxford St revamp, pride museum plans announced

Oxford Street has traditionally been the epicentre of Sydney's LGBTIQA+ communities. Photo: Bidgee/Wikimedia Commons, published under Creative Commons 3.0.

By TILEAH DOBSON

In a historic first for Sydney, the LGBTIQA+ community is set to have its history, culture and character protected and preserved in a pride museum on Oxford Street.

The City of Sydney Council has drafted a plan that will promote inclusive businesses, fund new public artworks and support the proposed pride museum around the retail and entertainment strip.

Due to the pandemic, Oxford Street was swapped for the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) as the location for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade this year and last year. This change is one of the key drivers for a decision by the City of Sydney to consult the community on how to revitalise the hallowed strip and ensure it remains central to Sydney’s LGBTIQA+ community and culture.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has vowed that Oxford Street’s identity as a home for LGBTIQA+ culture will be protected.

“We love Oxford Street. It’s one of our greatest and most-loved streets and we’re committed to building on its reputation as an iconic gay and lesbian and creative precinct, buzzing with activity day and night,” Moore said.

“Oxford Street has long been recognised as the home of Sydney’s LGBTIQA+ communities and those communities have informed and driven this strategy.

“That’s why we have developed this LGBTIQA+ Cultural and Social Place Strategy for Oxford Street. The strategy is one of only a handful in the world to explore ways to protect and preserve LGBTIQA+ culture and communities, and the first in its kind in Australia – reflecting the importance of this precinct and local LGBTIQA+ community to Australia’s past and future.”

The Lord Mayor believes that with Sydney set to host WorldPride 2023, there’s no better time to bring this strategy to life.

A first for Australia, the Southern Hemisphere and the Asia-Pacific region, WorldPride 2023 will showcase the LGBTIQA+ community on a global scale in association with the 2023 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Video: World Pride 2023/YouTube.

“This strategy, together with new planning controls, will help us deliver more cultural spaces in the precinct – galleries, space for artists, theatres, restaurants and nightclubs – a 24-hour precinct that has more inclusive and diverse cultural offerings that include the full spectrum of the LGBTIQA+ communities,” Moore said.

“The significance of Oxford Street for the LGBTIQA+ communities is interwoven with tens of thousands of years of cultural connection to place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This LGBTIQA+ place strategy will also prioritise opportunities to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and businesses.” 

Under the new strategy, the City of Sydney will focus on five key areas; recognising historical LGBTIQA+ spaces and places, increasing visibility and reflection of the LGBTIQA+ community, sustaining the character of Oxford Street, increasing the number of LGBTIQA+ spaces and ensuring the local community is safe.

The City of Sydney has acquired photographs of the community over the decades, which will be used as heritage recognition, hoarding artwork and public art.

The council is also aiming to add more rainbow crossings in the area, as well as support local artists to create street murals.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore – pictured, centre, at the 2022 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade – is a longtime supporter of the LGBTIQA+ community. Photo: Lord Mayor Clover Moore/Facebook.

The proposed pride museum will work with advocacy groups, like Qtopia and the NSW Government on funding and finding an appropriate location.

The Lord Mayor hopes that this strategy will take off and bring life back into Oxford Street.

“We want to support businesses to keep Oxford Street a global beacon for pride, diversity and inclusion, and we want to see LGBTIQA+ operators leading the charge of new cultural spaces in the precinct,” Moore said.

Tileah Dobson is the news editor and sub-editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

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