Mardi Gras 2016

Fair Day


Fair Day is the biggest and best-loved community event of the season, as Mardi Gras takes over beautiful Victoria Park for a picnic in the sun with 70,000 of our closest friends.

Fair Day 2016 will be held in Victoria Park, Camperdown on Sunday February 21 from 10am to 7.30pm.

Get healthy by visiting the ACON Health & Safety Zone, located near the main stage. Drop in to have a photo taken at the Test Often Instagram photo booth, find out more about getting involved in the EPIC PrEP trial, take part in two vital health surveys, find out more about ACON’s free counselling, community care and Mardi Gras safety services or simply take a moment to get out of the sun and relax in the comfort of the ACON Chillout Pavilion.

When: Sunday 21 February, 10pm-7.30pm
Where: Victoria Park, City Rd, Chippendale
Cost: Entry gold coin donation
Find Out More: Get Healthy At The ACON Zone At Mardi GRas Fair Day


ACON’s Mardi Gras Parade Float


Registrations for ACON’s 2016 Mardi Gras Parade Floast are now full.

Please cheer us on from Oxford Street, or watch us on SBS TV.

If you’d like to be added to our mailing list to receive details of next year’s floats, please email, with the subject line “ENews subscribe”

First Australians Mardi Gras Parade Float


Due to overwhelming demand places in the First Australians 2016 Mardi Gras Float are now full and registration is now closed.

If you would like to be placed on our waiting list, please email, with the subject line “First Australians 2016 Parade Waiting List”.

Please cheer us on from Oxford Street, or watch us on SBS TV.

If you’d like to stay updated with our activities please like our Facebook page


Screenings, Panel Discussions & Forums

Chemsex Documentary (Screening & Panel Discussion)


QueerScreen Mardi Gras Film Festival.
Presented and produced by Queer Screen. Followed by a panel discussion with ACON

This British documentary is a fascinating and honest insight into the lives of men who engage in weekend-long, drug-fuelled orgies, a.k.a. ‘chemsex’ or ‘wired fun’.

From hookup apps and websites to stark discussions around intimacy and addiction, health risks and HIV, Chemsex holds nothing back.

After the film, the a local perspective on the issue will be explored by a panel of expert guests including:

  • Associate Professor Kane Race, Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney
  • Nic Holas – The Institute of Many (TIM)
  • Associate Professor Nadine Ezard – Clinical Director, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney’s Alcohol and Drug Service
  • Leon Fernandes – NUAA Board Member

When: Wednesday 2 March, 8.30pm
Where: Event Cinemas George St, 505/525 George St, Sydney
Age Classification: 18+
Tickets: Click here


Asian Gay Men’s Forum: Sex Relationships & PrEP


Join writer and journalist Benjamin Law, bestselling author of Gaysia and The Family Law – now a TV series screening soon on SBS – for Asian Gay Men’s Forum: A discussion about sex, relationships & PrEP.

PrEP is the latest weapon in the fight against HIV and access to PrEP is about to be expanded in NSW.

This forum will provide a space for Asian gay men to have their questions about PrEP answered and to share their own stories about relationships and sex.

Light refreshments will be served.

When: Wednesday 10 February, 6pm – 9pm
Where: Level 2, Columbian, 117-125 Oxford St. Darlinghurst
RSVP: Before 8/2/16  |  02 9206 2080  |


Queer Thinking – Out Loud: About Domestic & Family Violence in LGBTQI Communities


Most LGBTIQ relationships are built on love and respect. Some are built on abuse and control.

It’s time to face the hard truths and the hidden secrets in our darkest closets:

  • 1 in 3 LGBTIQ people have experienced intimate partner violence.
  • Is this an epidemic in our communities?
  • How does it affect our communities and what are we going to do about it?
  • What specific needs do LGBTQI people have? What are the barriers to getting help?

Moderated by ACON’s Kai Noonan (Coordinator, Domestic and Family Violence), join a panel of experts and community members in an important forward-looking discussion on how we can bring violence into the light.

When: Saturday 27 February, 4.30pm-5.30pm
Where: SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod St Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Tickets: $10 + BF (All proceeds go towards our domestic violence prevention work)
Book: Click here


Online Dating Forum


Presented with SameSame

Join us at the Midnight Shift on Tuesday 1st March for a warts and all look at online dating.

Nath Valvo will host an evening of laughter and expert tips on how to get the most out of your favourite app. Our panel of experts includes Matt from, Tim from ACON and some special guests to be announced closer to the date. Learn tips and techniques for setting up an effective dating profile, so you can get what you’re looking for. Explore popular mobile apps to get the right kind of experiences.

Together, we’ll discuss the advantages and challenges of using the internet to cruise for sex, we’ll chat about online etiquette and sexual discrimination and we will show you how to stay safe when hooking up.

When: Tuesday 1 March, 7.30pm – 9pm
Where: Level 2, The Shift, 85 Oxford St. Darlinghurst
Tickets: FREE
Register: Click here


Out To Win Documentary (Screening & Panel Discussion)


QueerScreen Mardi Gras Film Festival.
Presented with Team Sydney and ACON. Followed by a panel discussion with ACON.

From the director of Small Town Gay Bar, Bear Nation and Continental comes the definitive gay sports documentary. Out to Win brings together the elder statesmen (and women) of gay sport – John Amaechi, Jason Collins, Brittney Griner, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and many others.

Director Malcolm Ingram provides a comprehensive history of what it is to be an ‘out’ athlete, from David Kopay who came out in 1975 (three years into his retirement), to Billie Jean King who was outed by an ex-lover (and found her sponsors evaporating overnight), to Michael Sam who came out before he was even drafted to the NFL (some say to give him a unique ‘brand’). Although not interviewed himself, Sam’s journey through the draft provides a real-time engine to this fascinating and timely documentary. Journalists, agents and publicists discuss whether Sam’s experience signifies the death of ‘the closet’ in sports, and whether LGBTIQ athletes can be marketable in today’s society.

As sports teams around the world begin taking tougher stances against homophobia, Out to Win will provide young LGBTIQ athletes with an abundance of inspiration to reach the top of their game.

When: Sunday 28 February, 7.30pm
Where: Event Cinemas George St, 505/525 George St, Sydney
Tickets: Click here


Greg Louganis: Back On Board Documentary


QueerScreen Mardi Gras Film Festival.
Presented with Team Sydney and ACON.

Greg Louganis is arguably the most recognisable gay male athlete of all time. With his stunning good looks, gorgeous smile and incredible skill, four-time Olympic champion Greg Louganis put diving on the map.

Adopted at one, diving at six and an Olympic medallist at sixteen, this all-access HBO documentary chronicles Greg’s tumultuous life. From a childhood dealing with depression, bullying and prejudice, through to his record breaking diving career that included the dramatic 1988 Seoul Olympics which saw an HIV-positive Louganis infamously hit his head on the springboard, only to dramatically recover and trounce the competition.

We join a 52-year-old Louganis, as he shares the struggles of the financial difficulties he has suffered in retirement, his past and present relationships, his wonderful friendship with his long-term coach and his welcome back into the community of diving, a sport he loves but also felt alienated by in the past.

Winner of the Audience Award at LA’s Outfest and featuring extensive archival footage of his breathtaking dives as well as in-depth interviews, this is one documentary you won’t want to miss.

This event also includes a special Q+A with HIV+ Australian Olympic champion Ji Wallace and HIV activist Nic Holas.

When: Tuesday 1 March, 6.15pm
Where: Event Cinemas George St, 505/525 George St, Sydney
Tickets: Click here


How To Win At Checkers (Every Time)


QueerScreen Mardi Gras Film Festival.
Presented with ACON’s Asian Gay Men’s Project.

This beautiful drama is the Thai entry for Best Foreign Language Film in the 88th Academy Awards, and is straight from the Berlin International Film Festival. How to Win at Checkers (Every Time), the first feature length film by Josh Kim (Draft Day, MGFF 2014), explores issues of identity, corruption, and the ties of family, with subtlety and quiet poignancy.

As 11-year-old Oat worries about losing his openly gay brother Ek to the army draft, his future seems uncertain. When his brother refuses to listen, Oat takes matters into his own hands with help from Ek’s boyfriend, the upper class Jai.

Ingkarat Damrongsakkul is endearing and believable as the wide-eyed, inquisitive Oat. Thira Chutikul and Arthur Navarat are touching as young boyfriends Ek and Jai, brushing the surface of a question of love and class.

How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) explores gay identity in Thailand, where homosexuality was decriminalised in 1956 and LGBTIQ people are generally accepted. It also delves into issues of institutional corruption in Thailand, and the politics of war. However, most important and striking, is the authentic portrayal of Oat’s growing awareness of the world, sexuality, and himself.

When: Friday 19 February, 7pm
Where: Event Cinemas George St, 505/525 George St, Sydney
Tickets: Click here



Youth History Walk


Our youth team is partnering with historian Robert French to deliver another instalment of the Mardi Gras Youth History Walk. The Youth History Walk is a great opportunity to learn more about the colourful past of LGBTI Sydney. Sydney’s queer history is rich; from the days of the convicts through gay liberation to now, Sydney has always had an active LGBTI population.

Robert French is an expert of our community’s history. He was a participant in the gay liberation movement in the1970s and 1980s, Vice President of ACON and later the president of The Pride History Group. Robert has observed the geographic, political and cultural shifts of our urban community over many decades. His wealth of knowledge and his passion for our past is astounding.

“All communities need to know the antecedent, to know where they come from, to know the struggles of the past — not to hero worship people who were involved in that, but to have some understanding of where we’re at, at any particular time.” – Robert French

The Youth History Walk of 2016 will begin at the Paddington Town Hall at 10.30am on 27th of February.  From there the tour will journey down Oxford Street, past St Vincent’s Hospital and into Surry Hills. Participants will hear stories of queer bush rangers, 20th century drag bars, clubs in the 80s and our community’s struggle with HIV/AIDS.

When: Saturday 27 February, 10.30am-1pm
Where: Begin at the Paddington Town Hall.
Cost: FREE
RSVP: By 23/2  | email name and number to


Bike & Tattoo Show


Proudle brought to you by Dykes on Bikes Sydney and ACON.

This year the Dykes on Bikes are teaming up with ACON to bring you their popular annual event – the DOB Bike and Tattoo Show. Promising to be louder, sexier and inkier than ever, head on down to the Bald Faced Stag, on Parramatta Road Leichardt to join the action.

Featuring very special entertainment, community stalls, bikes and tattoo comps, huge prizes and the notorious wet t-shirt contest, this is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The event kicks off at 12pm at the Bald Faced Stag, Parramatta Road Leichardt. Bikes must be in the car park by 2pm for judging.

Don’t miss this iconic community event which proudly showcases bikes and tattoos whilst raising money for gay and lesbian charities. Proudly brought to you by Dykes on Bikes Sydney and ACON.

When: Sunday 14 February, from 12pm
Where: The Bald Faced Stag Hotel, 345 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt
Cost: Gold coin donation


Project: Whisper


‘Project:Whisper’ is not about coming out, it’s about welcoming in.

This project is support by Clubs NSW, ACON and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District.

Working in collaboration with Young LGBTQI people from across Greater Western Sydney in partnership with Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, The Q is producing a new theatre project as part of Mini Gras ’16. You have permission to get excited. Think theatre, think media, think tumblr meets memoir.

When: Friday 4 March, 6.30pm
Where: The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, 597 High St, Penrith, 2750.
Tickets: $10. Click here

For more information about Project: Whisper, click here.


Hats Off!


Once again, Oz Showbiz Cares / Equity Fights AIDS gathers the glittering stars of Sydney’s musical theatre and cabaret industry to raise funds for the fight against HIV and AIDS.

In 2016, Hats Off! guarantees to be a tantalising treat. Come along and witness theatrical fireworks from faces and voices you know and love as well as new ones we’re sure you’ll grow to love.

Hats Off! is presented by Oz Showbiz Cares / Equity Fights AIDS Inc.

All proceeds go toward supporting ACON and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.

When: Monday 22 February, 8pm
Where: York Theatre, Seymour Centre, Corner of City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale, 2008
Tickets: Click here


Community Surveys

Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey (GCPS)


The Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey is designed to improve the understanding of gay health issues by gathering data on sexual behaviour, sexual health, HIV and STI testing and drug use.

The Periodic Survey occurs once a year and is conducted by the Centre for Social Research in Health and the Kirby Institute with ACON and Positive Life NSW. The study forms a vital part of NSW’s HIV response, enabling ACON and other organisations to measure the level of risk behaviour in the community every year.

The survey will commence on Friday 19 February and will continue through to Sunday 28 March. Recruiters will be visiting 20 LGBTI-friendly venues throughout Sydney, including Fair Day, clinics, pubs, clubs, sex venues, and gyms.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says more than 2,000 surveys are completed each year.

“These surveys give us a very useful picture of how gay men in our community are living their lives.”

“This is important for an organisation like ACON, so we can be aware of any social, sexual, or drug-use trends that are developing which then allow us to respond with appropriate health-promotion messages.

“Our recruiters also, generally, visit the same venues during each survey period so that we get similar groups of people participating each time. This helps us to track behavioural trends more effectively.

“So if you are approached by one of our recruiters, please take part in the survey. It only takes 10 minutes, is completely confidential, and will help us keep our community as healthy as possible.”

Sydney Women And Sexual Health Survey (SWASH)


With the 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras season upon us ACON is preparing once again to partner with the University of Sydney to facilitate an important community health initiative called the Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) Survey.

The SWASH Survey seeks to investigate health issues affecting same-sex attracted women, especially in relation to sexual health and alcohol and other drug use. It has been carried out every two years since 1996, and the results are used to help design important health education and health promotion campaigns for women, especially lesbians and other women in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities. The information also assists in advocating for work with health care providers, such as doctors and other health practitioners, in better understanding the health care needs of this population group.

The survey is aimed at women who live in Australia and are over the age of 16. It takes about 10 minutes to complete the survey so look out for us at Mardi Gras events, come say hello and contribute to helping us learn more about how we can provide better health services.

We will be at the following events, so come on down and fill out a survey:

  • Birdcage @ The SlyFox, Enmore Rd Enmore
    Wednesday 17 February &, Wednesday 2 March
  • Fair Day @ Victoria Park, City Rd. Chippendale
    Sunday 21 February
  • Glitter Ball @ Red Rattler, 6 Faversham St. Marrickville
    Thursday 25 February
  • Fierce Femme @ Viper Room, The Burdekin Hotel. 2 Oxford St, Darlinghurst 2010
    Thursday 25 February
  • Bike and Tattoo Show – Dykes on Bikes@ Bald Faced Stag, Parramatta Rd Leicharddt
    Sunday 14 February
  • Hell fire @ The Midnight Shift
    Friday 26 February
  • Mini Gras @ Penrith
    Friday 4 March


Asian Gay Men’s Community Survey


ACON and UNSW are conducting a comprehensive survey of HIV prevention needs among gay men and men who have sex with men of Asian background living in Sydney.

If you are 18 or above, have sex with other men and are Asian, please help us by filling in the survey here.



Rovers Wanted for Mardi Gras Season


We are looking for more fabulous party people to join our Rover crew.

Our Rovers are well known and loved amongst the LGBTI communities. Our Rovers are a team of fun loving volunteers who provide support and information at major LGBTI parties and events for party goers.

Each ACON Rover is trained, supervised and equipped to help party goers enjoy themselves and party safely.

For more info or to sign up for one of our training days, click here.


Tradies Wanted For Mardi Gras Season


We are looking for volunteers wanting to give back to the community this Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras season… Become one of our safe sex ambassadors… the TRADIES, and help Mardi Gras party goers stay safe.

The Tradies will be at all the major parties over the Mardi Gras season handing out safe packs, engaging with party goers and spreading our messages.

Do you want to give a little back to your community and get a free ticket to the MG party OR recovery parties?

All you need to do is a 2 hour shift in our tradies gear while mingling with the crowd and handing out safe sex packs. We will train you (a couple of hours one evening in February), water you and send you out into the world over the Mardi Gras season.

We can’t guarantee you will come back the same, but we can be sure you will have fun and do a really important job of helping maintain a safe sex presence for our gay brothers.

To register your interest contact | 02 9206 2064


Fair Play Returns to Mardi Gras 2016


Fair Play will be back for the third year at the 2016 Mardi Gras Party. Designed to help partygoers understand their legal rights and to monitor police operations, Fair Play is coordinated by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Inner City Legal Centre and ACON.

As a community-based initiative, Fair Play plays an increasingly important role in raising awareness and providing information to the LGBTIQ community on a wide range of issues relating to health, safety, rights and appropriate policing practices at parties during the Mardi Gras period, particularly where police drug dog operations occur. Fair Play also provides key legal information and advice on relevant laws during the party season.

To find out more about Fair Play click here.

To register your interest to volunteer for Fair Play click here.


Art Exhibitions

Company of Men Exhibition


Presented by The Dark Room & ACON

The Company of Men – a multi media art exhibition where men explore men.

Sponsored by ACON, Gaffa Gallery in Sydney’s CBD will turn into an exciting and dynamic space where senses will be aroused and stimulated with provocative, sensual and carnal delights.

Featuring the photographic and film work of international queer art provocateur Bruce LaBruce, CoM16 will also showcase other emerging and established queer artists from Australia and around the globe. Rogan Richards, Simonology, Antony Maklouf, Gareth Ernst, Damien Hinds and Nik Dimpoulos are just a few of the Australian artists on show as well as incredible international artists Boni Jiménez (Spain) Pär Åhlander (Sweden) Tyree Fifer (USA).

Stay up to date with exciting events happening during the exhibition.

When: Thursday 3 March – Monday 14 March
Times: Opening Night Thursday 3 March, 6pm-8pm
Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm, Sat: 11am-5pm
Where: Gaffa Gallery, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney, 2000
Tickets: FREE

For more information: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Alterity Exhibition

Boomali pic

ACON is proud to support the Alterity exhibition, a continuation of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative’s ongoing commitment to the black LGBTQI community.

Alterity has been curated by Jessica Johnson and Margaret Ross, and is a space for First Nations multi-disciplinary artists to creatively explore subjects of self-expression and unified otherness.

In Alterity, LGBTI Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists explore gender equality, marriage equality, health issues, social and political issues and cultural identity. The dynamic group of artists, from a variety of disciplines, celebrate what it means to be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex.

When: Wednesday, 24 February – Sunday, 10 April
Where: Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative, 55 Flood Street, Leichhardt
Cost:  FREE

Galaxy & Glitter Art Show


Step into a Glittering Galaxy of Art!

In this one-night-only event, be dazzled by provocative art, mind-blowing performances, funky music, and sizzling hot half-naked men, in celebration of Mardi Gras and LGBTQI pride.

Claim your entrance into a new Galaxy for only $25 a ticket – drinks included – with a percentage of profit going into supporting LGBTQI community.

Dress in your flashiest Mardi Gras wear, with a touch of galaxy and glitter!

Percentage of proceeds will go into ACON’s inclusivity initiatives.

When: Opening Night – Thursday 3 March
Exhibition – Monday 29 February – Saturday 5 March
Times: Opening Night from 6.00pm till late
Exhibition open daily from 12.00pm to 6.00pm
Where: Tap Gallery, 108/248 Palmer St (Republic Sq) Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Tickets: $25. Click here


Fierce Femme Photography Exhibition


An exploration and celebration of Femme identity: raw, sassy, strong, proud, dangerous…

At this free event you’ll be surrounded by femme as f*ck photography  celebrating the diversity of the Fierce Femmes in our beautiful LGBTIQ community.

Ms Sydney Leather 2015, The Sydney Femme Guild (winners of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Best Community Event 2015 for Femme Smut) and ACON’s Claude, with support from the Sydney Leather Pride Association are proud to bring you Fierce Femme.

This is a FREE event and donations are welcome – it’s all to raise funds for the Sydney Femme Guild. Everyone welcome!

This event will host beautiful works by professional artists in the community, available for sale, and a selection of amateur works submitted by our community! Keep an eye on the Facebook event page for the call out: your photo could win the ‘People’s Choice Award’, voted for on the night!

When: Thursday 3 March, 6pm
Where: Viper Room, Burdekin Hotel, 2 Oxford St, Darlinghurst 2010
Cost: FREE. Donations welcome
More info: