Sydney WorldPride recognises first “Rainbow Champions”





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Rudy Jean Rigg, Peter de Waal AM, Narelda Jacobs

Sydney WorldPride is recognising the first three of 45 Rainbow Champions from across Australia, ahead of the first WorldPride festival ever held in the Southern Hemisphere in 2023.  

From now until November, Sydney WorldPride will shine a spotlight on people from across Australia’s diverse LGBTQIA+ community and celebrate those who have made a significant contribution to the community and culture. 

From high-profile figures to grass-roots change-makers, Sydney WorldPride will be celebrating 45 influential figures as a symbol of the 45th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2023. 

The first three Rainbow Champions, from New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria, have been honoured in recognition of their incredible achievements, spanning five decades:  

  • Peter de Waal AM – author, gay history documenter, researcher, life-long activist, and “78er” having participated in the first Mardi Gras in 1978. 
  • Narelda Jacobs – a Whadjuk Noongar journalist and presenter hailing from Boorloo/Perth now living on Gadigal Country in Sydney. Narelda has worked at Network Ten since 2000 and spent 19 years in the Perth newsroom before heading to Sydney where she co-hosts Studio 10 and presents 10 News First Perth. 
  • Rudy Jean Rigg – LGBTQIA+ advocate, host of the wildly-popular Rainbow History Class, and TransAthletica.  

Each Rainbow Champion will be presented with a handmade piece of jewellery by Sydney-based LGBTQIA+ independent jewellery house, Maine+Mara. The jewellery incorporates Sydney WorldPride’s branding, designed by First Nations LGBTQIA+ artist, Jessica Johnson, also known as Nungala Creative.  

The remaining Rainbow Champions will be revealed over the course of the year to celebrate the breadth of the LGBTQIA+ community around Australia. 

Gabriel Pinkstone, Sydney WorldPride’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “In some ways, we have made huge progress since the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 1978 and as we plan WorldPride 2023, we are always conscious that the pride movement is due to actions of individuals who have helped create the change needed to move towards equality.  

“These 45 Rainbow Champions are our way to shine a spotlight on the diversity and tenacity of Australia’s incredible LGBTQIA+ community, from famous faces to community members, from people who have taken public action to those who have made a contribution behind-the-scenes.  

“Progress for LGBTQIA+ people has been hard won by people like Peter, Narelda and Rudy, who have taken action and been visible, at times when it hasn’t been easy to be accepted. 

“As we make our way to the 45th anniversary of Mardi Gras in 2023, I’m really looking forward to WorldPride being a time to honour the past, inspire ourselves for the future and of course, celebrate the beautiful diversity of our rainbow community.” 

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 78er, Peter de Waal AM, said: “Since the 1970s, when I became a foundation member of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution – CAMP – and participated in the first Mardi Gras, I have seen so much positive change for the LGBTQIA+ community.   

“I’m extremely proud to be recognised by Sydney WorldPride as a Rainbow Champion. It’s a testament to the progress that’s been made that we are able to have a major celebration like this in Sydney but the work must continue and there is still more to be done to achieve equality for the whole community.” 

Sydney WorldPride is a mega Mardi Gras festival taking from 17 February to 5 March 2023. Over 17 days, Sydney will host more than 300 LGBTQIA+ events, including Rainbow Republic, Ultra Violet as well as the much-loved Mardi Gras Parade, which will be returning to Oxford Street for the first time in three years.  

Tickets for selected Sydney WorldPride events are now on sale, with further events being released later in the year.  

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Acknowledgement of country

Sydney WorldPride will take place on the lands of the Gadigal, Cammeraygal, Bidjigal, Darug, Dharawal people who are the Traditional Custodians of the Sydney Basin.

We pay our Respects to their Elders past and present. Always was Always will be Aboriginal Land.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people come from many different clans and communities across Australia & in 2023 will come together as one, to celebrate with our global LGBTQIA+ community.