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First Nations stars open the festival of love

Shannon McGuire -

A dynamic line up of stars welcomed the world to Sydney in the spectacular Sydney WorldPride: Live and Proud concert at The Domain on Friday.

First Nations artists including Casey Donovan, Jessica Mauboy, Electric Fields' Zaachariaha Fielding and Deborah Cheetham joined international icon and champion for Mardi Gras since 1994, Kylie Minogue, in opening the festival of love.

Nana Miss Koori, also known as Graham Simms, paid homage to the Aboriginal flag with flaming red hair, a sparkling gold sequinned dress and long black gloves, while the powerhouse of Casey Donovan brought tears to every eye as she performed Make You Feel My Love to images of the fight for marriage equality.

Jessica Mauboy dazzled in a pink corset and bodysuit with matching boots, sending lovers into overdrive as they sang along with her to We Got Love.

The show even turning eyes to the skies as a 500-drone display symbolized love through various shapes before morphing into the progress pride flag.

Sydney WorldPride is the first to be hosted in the southern hemisphere and this year's 17-day event includes six days of First Nations-focussed events at Marri Madung Butbut at Carriageworks.

Festival Creative Director for Sydney WorldPride Ben Graetz said: "Marri Madung Butbut is the largest Aboriginal, Torrets Strait Islander and glob First Nation LGBTQIA+SB celebration ever to take place in Australia."

"I feel very proud to be putting First Nations creativity and culture on such a major stage and to showcase our queer mob's talents as part of Sydney WorldPride," he said.

Ticketed shows include:

Miss First Nation: Supreme Queen (26, 27, 28 Feb) – the ultimate drag competition, which sees eight queens battle it out over three nights to be crowned First Nations drag royalty.

Camp Culture (25-26 Feb) – an all-ages, interactive, family-friendly circus show with Dale Woodbridge-Brown.

Ailan Songs Project (26 Feb) – enjoy an evening of historical songs from the Torres Strait with a mix of ancient languages and tropical island reggae grooves

Chase (26-28 Feb) – experimental theatre and arthouse cinema collide with First Nation identity in this biting satire by Carly Sheppard and Kamarra Bell-Wykes, and starring Carly Sheppard as the titular character Chase.

As well as ticketed events, there will be a range of free events, parties, art installations and talks, for guests to enjoy including:

Tidda Bingo (27 Feb) – Tyra Bankstown hosts a game of bingo on steroids, accompanied by some fabulous drag performances.

Ōvah Ōvah (26 Feb) – a Pasifika variety show celebrating femme Fa'afafine performers, including Jaycee Tanuvasa, Killia, Jamaica Moana and the House of Iman.

Deadly Queer Deaf Mob (26 Feb) – a panel discussion providing insights into the Deaf First Nations community.

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