Gay and lesbian Melbourne

Melbourne's gay and lesbian scene may not be as upfront as Sydney's, but it's almost as formidable; this is such a diverse city that gays and lesbians seem just two more of the different groups that give the city its easy-going, multifarious feel.

The scene in Melbourne is less ghettoized than in Sydney. That said, Fitzroy, Collingwood and Carlton, north of the river, and St Kilda, South Yarra and Prahran, to the south, boast a strong male presence. Lesbians are everywhere, but Fizroy, Northcote and Clifton Hill are Melbourne's recognized stomping grounds. There are two gay and lesbian free papers to help you navigate new waters: the Melbourne Star Observer , published weekly, and the fortnightly Brother Sister .

Big events are mostly organized by the ALSO (Alternative LifeStyle Organisation) Foundation, including one over the Australia Day weekend at the end of January - Red Raw Resurrection . The scene's annual highlight, however, has to be the fabulous Midsumma Festival in late January and early February. Already in its twelfth year, Midsumma (tel 03/9415 9819, ) provides an umbrella for a wide range of sporting, artistic and theatrical events. The Queen's Birthday in June is celebrated at the Winterdaze party, and while the whole city is taking a day off to celebrate Melbourne Show Day in September, the Show Off dance party is the place to be.

Other useful information for tourists (each section contains more specific sub-sections):