Favoured for its culture, food and coffee, Melbourne is frequently referred to as ‘the cosmopolitan city’ of Australia. I feel pretty comfortable with this statement, finding it the most vibrant of places to visit in Australia, in terms of multiculturalism, cuisine and events, not to mention the visually spectacular street art! However, I may be biased..
Melbourne has always been the point of return for my internal compass. I grew up in the north-western suburbs and even though I spent my teenage years on a rural property in the state’s north, still managed to find my way back to the city of my childhood. As an adult, I love moving through the different neighborhoods, noticing how certain areas have changed whilst others have remained mostly the same. I also find it interesting to look at Melbourne through my queer eyes, when for so long I experienced the city solely through an out of focus heteronormative lens. Oops.
Melbourne has a great deal to offer the LGBTQIA+ community, yet I believe there is still so much more room for growth and recognition. The following list details a few places I found to be welcoming and inclusive on my journey coming out..and beyond:
Sundaylicious: The place to dance your moves away once a month with an all inclusive lady loving crowd. The venue changes a lot so be sure to check on facebook or instagram where the next event is being held. What I love about Sundaylicious is the wide age range of people who go – everyone is welcome and their motto is ‘come as you are’, so no need to dress up, unless you feel like it of course! The sessions start with acoustic vibes for a chilled Sunday afternoon, with the beat picking up after dark for DJ inspired dancing.
Friyays: Held in Francesca’s Bar in Northcote, this is a really fun night too. It is perfectly situated along High Street so eating beforehand is not a problem with the generous array of restaurants nearby! The venue is quite small so choose your space wisely when heading to the dance floor, otherwise you will be in the line of foot traffic heading to and from the bar. This venue also offers an outdoor room for those wishing to escape the noise of the dance/bar area in which smoking is allowed.
Hares & Hyenas: Quirky and queer this bookshop is a must stop for anyone in the Fitzroy area. Honestly, there would be no queer book unavailable here, either in stock or via order. Events are hosted at different times of the year so so be sure to check the website for more details.
Handsome Her: OMG! This is a recent discovery! Situated in Brunswick this feminist cafe could turn any omnivorous girl vegan. I recently had the most delicious avocado smash here. It was absolutely superb! Homemade kombucha on tap, a surcharge for men that is donated to charity in recognition of the gender pay gap, stimulating feminist reading and amazing food, what’s not to love? I believe they are also starting to host evening events too, so check them out on instagram or their website for further details.
Vegie Bar: Melbourne’s long time popular eatery which is an easy tram ride from the city center. Vegie Bar will not disappoint..picture all sorts of vegetarian loveliness in a welcoming, diverse space in the heart of Fitzroy. The laksa is a fave of mine here. Eat alone or eat with friends, everyone is made to feel welcome.
Welcoming cafe culture/op shops/bars worth visiting: Brunswick Street Fitzroy, High Street Northcote, Sydney Road Brunswick, Sydney Road Coburg, Fitzroy/Acland Street St Kilda, Johnston Steet Fitzroy, Chapel St Prahan.
Outside of Melbourne: Daylesford (home of the Chillout pride festival) and Castlemaine are my two favourite places to visit with welcoming feelings of inclusiveness. Beach-side it would have to be Barwon Heads.
THE MELBOURNE QUEER WOMAN’S CALENDER:
January/early February: Midsumma Festival including Melbourne Pride Parade. Countless events, shows and performances celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.
February/March: 2 Feb – 25 March: AFLW. Australian Women’s Football League. A fantastic league to support and it needs all the visibility it can get to ensure it continues to grow and offer more games for players and supporters in the following seasons.
March: March 8: International Women’s Day. A host of different events within different municipalities across Melbourne. See what’s on in your local area..
Melbourne Queer Film Festival – around ten days of diverse viewing within different venues across Melbourne. Season passes or tickets to individual events are available through the website. The MQFF offers something for the queer in us all. See online program for further details.
March/April: The Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Check the program online for details. Last year I was fortunate enough to see Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” before it went viral and turned into a Netflix special. Absolutely brilliant!
May: 17 – IDAHOBIT Day. International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. Flag raising and community events across Melbourne. Check local municipality websites for further details.
October: Australian LGBT History Month encompassing the Queer Formal, put on by Minus 18.
December: Carols by Queerlight. The Melbourne Rainbow Band puts on festive tunes at the St Kilda Town Hall. Check their website for details closer to the event (and for additional events throughout the year!)
Events in Outer Melbourne/regional areas: visit Australian Pride Network
If you happen to know of any queer events or welcoming places, in or around Melbourne not listed here, please let me know in the comments section and I will add them to the list and link back to your blog.
Thanks so much for reading,