Courtney Act Tried Her Damn Best to Get Lady Gaga Here for WorldPride

Courtney Act Tried Her Damn Best to Get Lady Gaga Here for WorldPride

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that Sydney WorldPride 2023 is just around the corner. With so many WorldPride events on, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what you should go to (spoiler alert: all of them) and how to make it through the month of festivities. That’s why Lifehacker Australia enlisted the help of none other than Australia’s most fabulous drag queen, Courtney Act, to give us her top tips on how to survive WorldPride and the best events to attend.

The importance of WorldPride and Mardi Gras

Image: Getty

Even though Mardi Gras comes around every year, this is the first time that a country in the Southern Hemisphere has hosted WorldPride, which is pretty significant.

As Courtney Act said during our call, WorldPride is an opportunity to bring global attention to our region and even though LGBTQIA+ rights in Australia are ‘pretty good’, things can be improved.”

“If we look at the intersections within our community, queer First Nations peoples, queer people with disabilities, queer women, [and] the plight of trans people, we can find places where we can really improve outcomes and livelihoods of the people in our own backyard,” Act said.

It’s not just queer lives in Australia that Sydney WorldPride 2023 will touch, it’s those in the Asia Pacific region too.

“There are still places where it’s criminal to be queer, so working with local activitsts in those areas to change those things [is important too]. I know the Human Rights Conference is focusing a lot on that and bringing real attention to those areas.”

Because Australia recently legalised same-sex marriage, many people seem to assume that the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights is over, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s for that reason alone that events like Mardi Gras and WorldPride are as important now as they have ever been.

“I think it’s just relevant as ever and I think that focusing our attention on the non-cis white gay men in our community is really important, like the intersections of First Nations Australians, people with disabilities and people in the Asia Pacific region.”

“We think ‘Oh, we’ve got equality in Australia. Why do we need Mardi Gras?’ [But] we still need it. It’s about celebrating and giving visibility to and helping those people who may not be as out or as connected to feel a little bit more pride.”

If you live in Sydney, you’ve probably seen hundreds of rainbow flags at every corner of the city. There’s even the iconic Progress Shark, who has become an internet sensation for obvious reasons.

Ally sharks aside, there’s a real power in having so much queer representation during events like Mardi Gras and WorldPride.

“Somebody’s seen a rainbow logo, I don’t know if Target or Kmart have changed their logo but, in Target in Broken Hill or Wagga Wagga. I feel like those little bits of visibility actually can mean so much to people living in those places who may not be as free to express themselves as it is here in the big smoke,” Act said.

WorldPride and Mardi Gras are also incredibly important for young queer people who might be struggling to see themselves represented properly in the communities or areas they are in. Courtney Act says that she hopes that this year, young people get to see that representation at all Pride events.

“I hope that they just feel the love, the support and the celebration. Sometimes there’s loud, vocal minorities in the media or in their communities or their families and sometimes those voices can seem like they’re occupying 90 per cent of the conversation when actually they represent probably not even 10 per cent,” Act said.

“I think WorldPride is a chance when our queer voices will be amplified and I hope that people really notice how much of the country are on board and celebrating with us. Rather than focusing any attention on one or two noisy trolls in the media who try and detract from us.”

Courtney Act’s top 5 WorldPride 2023 events

WorldPride events 2023
WorldPride 2023. Image: Getty

It’s okay if you feel a little overwhelmed with all the events going on at Sydney WorldPride 2023, Courtney Act’s here to save you.

1. Opening Ceremony – February 24 

“I mean, I’m slightly biased but [the Opening Ceremony] is going to be epic in The Domain, 20,000 people, amazing acts … fireworks and a drone show.”

“It’s gonna be so much fun. [There’s] Kylie [Minogue], me, Casey [Donovan], Charli XCX, Jess Mauboy and Electric Fields, it’s such a good show.”

“Ash and Ant – who go by The Squared Division – who are the creative directors, they’re world-class. They did Katy Perry’s Vegas concert, they’ve done Meg the Stallion, Cardi B, they’ve done Britney [Spears], they’ve done Kylie [Minogue]… so it’s going to be so epic.”

2. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade – February 25 

“The Mardi Gras parade is another obvious one, but it’s returned to Oxford Street this year after being at the SCG for the last two years, so that’s sort of a thrill.”

3. Ultra Violet – March 3 – March 4 

“Ultra Violet at the Town Hall is a women’s event created through a female lens for everybody.”

4. Miss First Nations: Supreme Queen – February 26 – February 28 

“Miss First Nations pageant; I’m judging at finals. I was a judge last year in Melbourne at the finals and it’s a really fun night of First Nations drag performers and that’s a lot of fun.”

5. Bondi Beach Party – March 4 

“I mean the Bondi Beach Party if you want like that iconic Sydney location with a circuit party experience.”

It was tough to limit the events to just five, so Courtney Act also added that people should check out Mardi Gras Fair Day as well as the Closing Concert: Rainbow Republic.

How to get through WorldPride

It’s easy to get swept up in all the events that come with Mardi Gras, especially with WorldPride meaning there are an extra two weeks of celebrations. With that, it’s important to take care of yourself so you can make it through the whole month of festivities.

Courtney Act’s top tip to getting through WorldPride? Just pace yourself.

“I think that Mardi Gras comes once a year, [so] you get really excited, you go out and you know you have a finite amount of time to have fun and so you try and have all of the fun at once,” Act explained.

“But I think with WorldPride, the Mardi Gras festival kicks off on Friday (February 17), and goes all the way through to the sixth of March, so I think like pacing yourself. I know this sounds obvious, but I think knowing that there is plenty of fun and plenty of parties, plenty of events to attend … know that every day during WorldPride there is fun to be had. I think I think quantity and quality are important.”

Who would Courtney Act add to the iconic WorldPride events lineup?

Image: Spotify

I didn’t have to wait a beat for Courtney to respond here, she had an answer as soon as I asked the question.

“I’m gonna go with Lil Nas X. I was secretly hoping for a Lil Nas X moment at WorldPride.”

However, let the record show that Courtney Act worked hard on behalf of all queer Australian people to get Lady Gaga to come to WorldPride 2023.

“Lady Gaga would also be another iconic performer to have. I personally did my due diligence … because I know her manager, Bobby [Campbell], and we were in Los Angeles, watching Dancing with the Stars, which Shangela was on in the US,” Act explained.

“Bobby and I were chatting and he was like ‘Ah, I’d love to come to Sydney for Mardi Gras one year,’ and I was like, ‘Well, you know, I feel like there’s an all expenses paid opportunity for your artist to be there if she wants to, and it’s WorldPride, there’s no better time’ and he was like what are the dates again? I know we already looked at this, but let me check the dates again. But she’s back in the middle of filming a movie. She can’t come but I don’t know, I feel like I did the right thing.”

“Imagine if I had succeeded? You wouldn’t be able to tell me shit if I had gotten Lady Gaga to perform at WorldPride. If I had been the linchpin or the catalyst to bring her to Sydney, I’d never shut up about it again. There are still future Mardi Gras [though].”

I can’t even imagine what I would do if Lady Gaga were coming to Sydney, my gay heart would probably explode.

But still, the lineup for these events is packed with so much incredible talent it’s going to be such a good time.

I just can’t wait to dance like no one is watching and celebrate. As Act told me, that’s a reference to her new song, ‘Celebrate’, which comes out on Friday.

Courtney Act is hosting ABC’s live broadcast of WorldPride’s Live and Proud: Opening Ceremony alongside the uber-talented Casey Donovan. You can watch the broadcast on ABC TV, ABC iview and listen to live crosses on Triple J. Jeremy Fernandez and Rhys Nicholson will so be part of the broadcast.


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