Pride in Science

Mardi Gras is just around the corner, and this year it’s bigger than ever as WorldPride (a global LGBTQIA+ festival staged since 2000) is coming to Sydney. It’s the first time that WorldPride has been held in the Southern Hemisphere and the theme of the festival is Gather, Dream, Amplify.

There’s a fabulous program of events scheduled around the parade, parties and protest that are synonymous with Mardi Gras, and this year science-themed events are featuring more prominently than ever.

As a queer scientist, I’m delighted to see the STEMM fields being celebrated as part of such a significant cultural event. In 2023, science has found its place in the program as part of collaborative projects that also celebrate fashion, photography, comedy, music and storytelling.

So, let’s take a look at some of the events celebrating pride in science!

Kicking of the (unofficial) scientific program on Thursday 16 February is the launch of CLOAK – a collaboration between academics and students from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of Sydney – that transforms discarded lab coats into new garments responding to scientists’ queer histories. As part of the project twelve LGBTQIA+ scientists were partnered with fashion students who created twelve bespoke lab coats. The process has been captured photographically and in a short film of the scientists modelling their ‘cloaks’ against a backdrop of a decommissioned laboratory in the School of Chemistry at the University of Sydney.

I witnessed and learnt from CLOAK that designing an individual item of clothing for someone is an incredibly intimate process,” shares A/Prof Cherine Fahd from the School of Design at UTS. “It requires two people to meet, talk, ask questions and listen. Across two workshops, I witnessed a generous social exchange between fashion designers and scientists. The warmth generated between the designer and the scientists was affecting. As CLOAK’s art director, I have tried to capture in photography and film the reciprocity at the heart of our experiment, the unique lab coats reimagined by ten designers and the twelve scientists’ openness and willingness to play.

The launch party for CLOAK will feature the first public showing of Fahd’s film and the opening of the photographic exhibition together with DJ sets from Annabelle Gaspar. The exhibition will then remain open for the duration of WorldPride.

Credit: Cherine Fahd, Courtesy of CLOAK: Queer Science, Fashion and Photography

When: Launch 16 February 5.30 to 7pm, Exhibition 17 Feb – 5 Mar
Where: UTS Central (Level 4A, Building 2), 61 Broadway, Ultimo
Price: Free, but limited places so please register!
More information and bookings

Next, on Saturday 18 February, the much-loved Jurassic Lounge returns to the Australian Museum with a special pride edition. The whole of the museum is open until 10pm for an adults-only party featuring DJs, comedians and scientists. As part of the event, The STEAM Room, a science comedy experience brought to you by Luke Steller from Praxical and Ru Halwala and Tom Stevenson from Scary Strangers, will deliver some STEAMy queer comedy. The line-up will include Prof Michelle Power (from Queers in Science), and queer comedians Rosie Piper, Josephine Massingham, and AJ Lamarque (who is also working to train a new batch of scientists to do comedy in this year’s STEAM Room shows).

It’s so exciting to see the performing arts and queer identities coming to the forefront of science communication” says Luke Steller PhD student and co-founder of Praxical. “Obviously there is still a lot of work to do to make STEM fields inclusive and safe, but these large scientific institutions hosting on pride events is an awesome step in the right direction”.

We’re so excited to present this exceptionally talented line-up at the Pride edition of Jurassic Lounge.” Say Ru and Tom from Scary Strangers. “It’s so important for safe spaces to exist for a diversity of voices to be heard, and we feel privileged to be included in such a wonderful event.

Scary Strangers will also be performing (LGB)T.Rex Autopsy at the Jurassic Lounge, serving up a queer comedic take on the Australian Museums regular experience T-rex Autopsy.

The Australian Museum is delighted to be a part of Sydney World Pride with a great line-up of activities” says Amanda Farrar, Director Public Affairs and Development at the Australian Museum. “There’s something for everyone with a special Pride edition of Sydney’s iconic adults-only museum party, Jurassic Lounge! And we are delighted to host a special Family Day to Celebrate WorldPride – a fun-filled day featuring live performances, drop-in workshops, storytelling, dancing, and much more. Look out for the rainbow shark on William Street as you enter the AM. The Australian Museum prides itself on being a place where everyone can feel welcome and we look forward to celebrating this important event with thousands of visitors in March.”

Jurassic Lounge: Pride Edition
When: 6.30 to 10pm, Saturday 18 February
Where: Australian Museum, College St, Sydney
Price: $36 members, $45 non-members (ticket price includes entry to Sharks exhibition)
More information and bookings

Following a hiatus in 2022, An Evening With 500 Queer Scientists is back and this year there are two events on both Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 February. In the beautiful surrounds of the Calyx at the Royal Botanic Gardens you will hear short science talks from LGBTQIA+ scientists followed by a panel discussion. This year two different groups of speakers will share their research and experiences as queer scientists along the complimentary themes of ‘Love Your Nature’ and ‘Atomic Wonders and Universal Forces’. The event sold-out in 2019, 2020 and 2021 so don’t miss out!

500 Queer Scientists was a real trigger for us to bring people together and build a local community of LGBTQIA+ scientists in the Sydney region,” says event co-founder Dr Hervé Sauquet who is a Senior Research Scientist and Acting Manager at the Royal Botanic Garden. “We started from zero and now we’re really proud to have ‘An Evening with 500 Queer Scientists’ and more and more science events featured regularly on the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras program, and many more exciting networking events throughout the year thanks to the NSW chapter of QueersInScience. We’ve come a long way and have learned so much from each other!

An Evening with 500 Queer Scientists
When: 6 to 9pm, Monday 20 February and Tuesday 21 February
Where: The Calyx, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Price: $30-45
More information and bookings

The Sydney Observatory Late series is also celebrating with a WorldPride edition on Wednesday 22 February. Head down to the Sydney Observatory in time to watch the sun go down and to become part of an experiment in collective sound and join the Atomic Choir. We’ll be inviting you to join us to create an album of some of science’s greatest hits. Debuting at the Science Tent at Splendour in the Grass last year, the Atomic Choir want to explore science from new angles through found, imagined and data-inspired sound.

The Atomic Choir is about making science fun, joyous and raucous at the same time; after all, who said learning about science needed to be serious?” says the co-director of the Atomic Choir, Alexis Weaver, an electroacoustic composer and PhD student at the University of Sydney. “The best part is that everyone can contribute to this event regardless of their scientific background – it’s all about creatively bringing science to life through the power of sound. I’m especially excited to bring Atomic Choir to World Pride, which is all about inclusivity and celebration of our unique identities. We all learn and listen differently too – so Atomic Choir seems like the perfect tie-in.”

Sydney Observatory Late: WorldPride
When: 7 to 9.30pm, Wednesday 22 February
Where: Sydney Observatory, Millers Point, Sydney
Price: Free, but limited places and registration essential
More information and bookings

The array of Pride Amplified science events showcase the creative breadth of communicating science in fun and accessible ways,” says Professor Michelle Power, an academic at Macquarie University and Queers in Science NSW Branch co-chair. 

That many diverse members of Queers in Science, Australia’s national network for LGBTQIA+ people in STEM fields, are contributing to this amazing Pride Amplified program is fantastic for the visibility of Australia’s Queer scientists and for signifying that science has a place for everyone.”

More details of events that are part of Sydney WorldPride 2023 can be found at

Guest blog by Associate Professor Alice Motion, Interim Director, Sydney Nano Institute, the University of Sydney.