After a four-year stint in Autostraddle’s top American lesbianish city (the incomparable Northampton, Massachusetts), I thought I had developed impossibly high queer-friendliness expectations for every future place I’d inhabit. Then I found Sydney. Indeed, the land of adorable marsupials, rugged and beautiful beaches, and (almost) constant great weather is also a magical land of lesbians. Added bonus: many of them have cute accents and enjoy surfing.
Of course, Australia shares the U.S.’s regional disparities on queer acceptance and many people, particularly in the country’s vast rural interior, are very socially conservative. Gay marriage remains illegal here. Nevertheless, it’s tempting to forget that any queer-unfriendliness exists when you’re in Sydney’s Inner West: a group of neighborhoods right outside downtown where lesbian couples often seem more the norm than heterosexual ones (okay, that may be slight hyperbole, but you certainly don’t have to think twice about walking hand in hand with your partner).
Of course, like any city, the Sydney lesbian scene has its drawbacks. I’ve heard many complaints about the disconnect between young and older queer populations. Because the legal drinking age is 18, you’ll come across lots of baby dykes at most girls’ events, and by their mid-20′s, many women have burned out on the scene. Although some events are designed specifically for slightly older women, these are dominated by the 30-plus crowd and it can be difficult to find women in their mid- to late-20′s.