Oxford Street has built a reputation as the gay-friendly go-to in Sydney, from the vibrant, diverse atmospheres of gay nightclubs, to the various LGBTQI events of support that frequently fill the streets.
In an act of solidarity with the international Gay Solidarity Celebrations following the Stonewall Uprising in New York, Sydney’s Oxford Street hosted the very first march on the night of Saturday 24th June 1978. Several hundred members of the LGBTQI community, as well as straight supporters,marched down Oxford Street towards Hyde Park. Some braved the winter bite in festive costumes, following a small truck’s music and sound system,and gathering supporters along the way. After the night ended in the brutal arrests of over 50 men and women, and violent police harassment of many more, an increased amount of protests took place. By April 1979, the parliament of NSW repealed relative legislation that had allowed the arrests to be made and introduced a new act allowing Sydneysiders to have demonstrations without the need of permits. Consequently, this first Mardi Gras march became a milestone in the civil rights movement. After tweaks and remoulds, the organisation has stayed true to the core purpose of the Mardi Gras celebrations. Oxford Street has watched the progress of the LGBTQI community and its supporters from its brave beginnings, and will undoubtedly continue to host events that showcase the power that is born of celebrating diversity.
After an Expression of Interest was put out for creative and cultural organisations to occupy a vacant city owned property, 16 organisations were granted office space as part of the Sydney 2030 plan to revitalise the Oxford Street Precinct with creative and cultural organisations that could help to drive foot traffic to the area as well as promote the community.