Sydney Hub

Nick Jonas and Jake Shears to Headline Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras: VIDEO


Nick Jonas and Jake Shears will headline this year's Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on March 7 with Betty Who, Australian R&B/pop singer Jessica Mauboy, and drag queen Courtney Act, organizers announced today.

The festival, which lasts from February 20 to March 8 began as a gay rights march in June of 1978. It continues to include a world-famous parade down Oxford Street.

Said Jonas in an interview: "I will be making my first appearance in Australia at Mardi Gras. I am so excited to perform, I know Mardi Gras is an amazing night and whole thing and I am just thrilled.”

Jonas said last year that he was making a concerted effort to reach out to his gay fan base. Those fans down under are about to get a taste of it.

Shears has been fairly under-the-radar since announcing the Scissor Sisters' "indefinite hiatus" in late 2012.

Think you know everything about Nick Jonas?

Check out MTV's "100 Things You Didn't Know", AFTER THE JUMP...

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Sam Smith and His New Boyfriend are Lovers on Holiday in Boatload of Instagram Pics: PHOTOS

(instagram kidjongo)

British singer Sam Smith, who was coy about his new relationship in an interview last month in which he confirmed that he was dating an extra from his "Like I Can" music video, spent the holidays with his special guy, a dancer named Jonathan Zeizel.

Smith shared a boatload of photos of Zeizel and friends on a trip to Sydney, Australia and a lush resort area. The two appear smitten with one another after sharing their first selfie (above) last month, and not concerned about going public with it.

The cheeky Instagram shots include one in which Smith and Zeizel recreate the iconic scene from Titanic, captioned, "I'm flying Jack, I'm flying..."

Check out more shots that suggest Smith is currently feeling like he's 'King of the World', AFTER THE JUMP....


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Grieving Partner of Sydney Siege Victim Tori Johnson Speaks Out for the First Time: VIDEO


As we reported previously, Tori Johnson, the cafe manager of the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney, Australia who was killed during the hostage siege earlier this week, was openly gay and in a fourteen year relationship with his partner Thomas Zinn. 

JohnsonSpeaking out publicly for the first time on Australia's Today show this morning, Zinn spoke about the love he shared with his "humble, fair, and generous" partner as well as how the flower memorial at Martin Place has comforted him during this time of mourning. 

Zinn also released a statement on behalf of Johnson's family that read in part:

This tragedy will remain with us forever. But the uniting effects of this week, how they have galvanized our city, our country makes us even more proud of Tori and Katrina and proud of all Australians.

Mother of three Katrina Dawson was the other hostage killed during the siege.



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Gay Man Killed In Sydney Siege Died Protecting Hostages: VIDEO


Tori Johnson, the cafe manager of the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney, Australia, was killed yesterday as he fought off an armed terrorist who took the cafe and its patrons hostage. Johnson was trying to disarm the terrorist to provide cover for the other hostages as they fled during a moment in which the terrorist fell asleep. Johnson is being praised as a hero whose actions "certainly saved many lives,” as Don Baxter of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations put it. From an op-ed in The Huffington Post by James Peron:

Tori Johnson was 34. He managed the Lindt Chocolate Café for two years. Employees and customers all said he was a good man, a kind man. He was also a gay man.

Johnson tried to take the gun to protect the other hostages as they fled, but he was shot in the attempt. His attack distracted the terrorist. The others escaped and the sound of the gunshot brought in the police, who killed the armed man. Another hostage also died on the scene, but of a heart attack on the way to hospital after being shot.

Syd2Tori is survived by his partner of fourteen years, Thomas Zinn:

Tori's partner Thomas, and his family, issued a statement: "We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for."

As NewNowNext notes, the terrorist responsible for the attack, "Monis, [was] a radical Muslim cleric from Iran...He was killed when police raided the cafe. Five hostages were injured, as well, as was a police officer, who suffered minor injuries from gunshot pellets to his face."

James Peron's op-ed in The Huffington Post draws attention to the political climate that surrounds Johnson's death. A gay man who died a hero, Johnson nevertheless died a second class citizen as Australia does not allow same-sex couples to marry. He and his partner were never afforded full equal rights under the law. Though Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised Johnson as "good people" and commended him for his heroism, Peron points out,

"Yes, Tori was good people, but to Abbott he still wasn't good enough, at least not when it came to marriage...If Abbot wishes to honor the heroism of Tori Johnson he should push for marriage equality. At the very least, he should get [out] of the way and allow his own party caucus freedom to vote their conscience."

Watch a news report on Johnson's death and the siege that ensued at the cafe in Sydney, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Worries Mount as Sydney Cafe Hostage Crisis Enters Fourteenth Hour: VIDEO


An ongoing hostage crisis has rocked the Australian city of Sydney today as police enter the fourteenth hour of the central business district cafe siege.

During rush hour on Monday morning, at least one armed gunman entered the Lindt cafe in Sydney's Martin Place. It remains unclear exactly how many people remain inside the cafe, with reports ranging from 15 to 30 potential hostages. Five people have emerged from the cafe since the siege began, although police have not said whether the five escaped or were released. 

The gunman is also said to be demanding an ISIS flag and a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The Guardian reports:

Sydney1Chilling early images showed some hostages apparently forced to hold a black and white flag against the window bearing the Islamic creed, raising fears that a terrorist attack was under way. Other terrified hostages inside the cafe could be seen with their hands pressed against the glass.

Police evacuated offices in the immediate vicinity of the cafe and directed workers in nearby buildings to remain indoors and away from open windows. Panic spread when a man in the area was arrested by police, but the incident was unrelated.

Staff and tourists around Sydney Opera House were also reported to have been evacuated after a suspicious package was spotted. Helicopters were seen hovering above the tourist attraction throughout the day.

The black flag in the window of the cafe appeared to bear the Shahada, an Islamic affirmation of the oneness of God, reading: “There is no god but the God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.”

ABC News adds:

New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, speaking at a news conference as the situation stretched into the night, said authorities remain committed on ensuring that the hostages are safely released.

"We have the very best negotiators in the world on the job," Scipione said.

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird said people should proceed as usual on Tuesday morning, but should work from home if their offices are located within an exclusion zone near the standoff.

Watch news reports on the story, as well as PM Tony Abbott's statement on the ongoing crisis, AFTER THE JUMP...

[bottom photo via Channel 7 News]

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Sporting History Made At Gay Rugby's Bingham Cup - VIDEO

Bingham cup

Sporting history was made last week at the launch of The Bingham Cup - the World Cup of gay rugby - in Sydney, Australia.

Two Rugby World Cup-winning Wallabies captains joined senior federal politicians from every major Australian party, the International Rugby Board (IRB) publicly endorsed the event and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) adopted a range of policies aimed at eliminating homophobia.

Bingham cup 2

The IRB is believed to be the first major international sporting federation to publicly endorse a gay sporting event.

Other international sporting organisations including world soccer governing body FIFA - which came under pressure following homophobic incidents at this year’s World Cup - were challenged to follow rugby’s lead.

John Eales, the most successful captain in Australian rugby history and a board member of the ARU, said:

“We should commend and celebrate the support around the world to address homophobia and discrimination in sport. There is still a great deal of work to do, but I’m hopefully we’ll soon see a time when athletes at all levels feel comfortable being open about their sexuality and playing the sports they love without fear of discrimination.”

IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper said:

“Rugby recognises sport’s wider responsibility to society and its ability to drive social change. Sport can cross barriers. Sport boosts self-esteem and Sport promotes inclusivity and celebrates diversity. We are proud as Rugby grows across every continent that the sport’s strong values of solidarity, integrity, discipline, respect and passion still make a real difference in modern society.”

Senior Australian federal cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull, a long-time advocate for LGBT equality, added:

“A person’s sexuality should be completely irrelevant whether they are playing sports or doing anything else in life.  I’m proud Australians are playing such a significant role in highlighting the need for change. We need to continue working proactively to find effective approaches to address homophobia and change sporting culture.”

The tournament, which was won by the Sydney Convicts, is named in honor of rugby player Mark Bingham who is known internationally as one of the heroes of 9/11.

Watch a report on the tournament launch and the official tournament video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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