During the recent Sydney World Pride festival, I was commissioned by Booking.com and CSM to photograph events along Crown Street, to document the installation that Booking.com had created as part of their “Travel Proud” initiative.
Travel Proud has been created as a way of making travel for the LGBTQA+ community more inclusive. Companies, organisations and people who offer travel and hospitality experiences have been encouraged to take a short course to understand and connect more effectively with LGBTQA travellers. This reduces any barriers or uncomfortable situations for LGBTQA+ patrons and has been welcomed by Booking.com’s partners.
Passers-by were encouraged to share “travel proud” messages of goodwill and anecdotal travel stories by recording them (usually on their phones), then uploading them to the “giant suitcase” containing a large LED screen which then played them back.
I enjoyed capturing the atmosphere in Crown Street during this event. I started early on a Sunday morning to document the construction and reassembling of a giant suitcase which was to become the central focus for the Booking.com promotion. Alongside the suitcase, a stage was built with lights and sound gear, ready for the line-up of local and international talent.
And the artists, at least in the shows I experienced, were really magnificent. There was Nick Pes wooing the public with his dulcet tones (and a stunningly ripped midriff clearly on display).
Greg Gould had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Trevor Ashley gave Shirley Bassey a run for her money.
Of course the big draw card on the night was the Austrian winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, Conchita Wurst. Conchita was in town as an ambassador for Booking.com and the Travel Proud program.
There were fabulous drag queens from interstate, including Big Thick Energy, Vassy, Haiku Hands and Chela, as well as drag queens well known to the Sydney crowd such as Verushka Darling. Plus there was a string of DJ’s from Sydney and beyond, including James Tobin who I had photographed many years previously.
The night closed with a stunning performance by Paul Capsis who would have blown the roof off, if there was a roof in the first place. I loved watching the faces in the crowd during Paul’s performance. One comment I noted was, “Capsis is a creature with incredible force. His screams can be heard from Mars.”
All in all it was great to see Oxford Street and the neighbourhood come alive with a great feeling of celebration and sharing over this period. Bravo to the organisers for creating a really successful new event.
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