Australian burlesque has never been more queer

Earlier this year, history was made in the Australian burlesque and LGBTQIA+ community.

Scarlet Adams, real name Anthony Price, was crowned Miss Burlesque Australia.

She is the first drag queen to ever compete in the final and then claim the title in the competition’s nine-year history.

Scarlet Adams’ victory is reminiscent of the very beginnings of burlesque in its main hub New York City, which featured a significant amount of LGBTQIA+ characters who were celebrated by society at large.

According to research by Atlas Obscura, the 1920s to the early 1930s saw a trend known as the “Pansy Craze,” where every nightclub, burlesque, vaudeville and Broadway show featured lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans characters.

Drag queens and drag kings[1] held beauty contests all around the United States while lesbians and bisexuals performed songs about same-sex relationships, until a crackdown on “deviants” in the mid 1930s.

Today, the queer burlesque scene is alive and well, with a whole range of unique characters gracing stages around the world.

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Horses and hope

Northside Riding Club is one of the oldest equestrian clubs in Sydney, with over 300 members of all ages.

One of these members is a young woman named Sam*.

She has cerebral palsy and suffered a serious brain injury at the age of seven which exacerbated her condition.

Sam loves horses, and riding gives her a joy and feeling of independence like no other. But it is not easy for her to live out her dream.

She falls over trying to mount her horse. There is no flat pathway for her to navigate around Princess Anne Equestrian Arena, the section of St Ives Showground where Northside members ride. The nearest accessible toilets are over one kilometre away.

Now, thanks to a joint effort between Northside, the NSW government and Ku-ring-gai Council, her life has been made much easier.

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