Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras' Queer Thinking: Rising Up For ‘GAYRABIA’ – Xander Khoury And The House Of Silky

A range of topics will be up for discussion during Mardi Gras' 'Queer Thinking' programme, taking place across three panels.

Xander Khoury

These sessions, curated by Benjamin Law, Julie McCrossin AM and Patrick Abboud, will bring together rising stars, unsung heroes and provocateurs from here and around the world.

'Raising the rainbow flag: Rising up for 'GAYRABIA'' is one of the three panels. It's hosted by broadcaster and documentary-maker Patrick Abboud, and will feature the voices of queer Arabs sharing their stories of resistance and resilience.

As part of the event, Xander Khoury from QTBIPOC collective House Of Silky will present a revolutionary vogueing performance. Here, Xander tells us about his involvement in 'Queer Thinking', and provides some background on House Of Silky.

You are the founder of the House Of Silky. Tell us a bit about that.
House Of Silky is a collective body of QTBIPOC artists based in Sydney. It encompasses a diverse blend of cultures, performing together to pay homage to their ancestry and iconic legends of the ballroom scene. And, above all else, House Of Silky is a family.

When you started House Of Silky what were your main intentions?
The house was founded by three people; myself, Mira and Kitana. We set three intentions for the creation of the house. The first being the house would provide a safe space for QTBIPOC people that would function as a family. Secondly, to create and bring ballroom into the nightlife space in Australia and lastly, to be an active voice in helping shape the queer and ballroom community in a positive way.

House Of Silky first came to be in mid-2019. Are you satisfied with what it has achieved since?
Yes, House Of Silky came up very fast and hard. It came at a point in ballroom Australia where it needed some real competition. Silky disrupted the ballroom scene and has achieved some really incredible things within ballroom, outside of ballroom and as a house. I’m very proud of us.

Tell us a little bit about how you came to be involved in 'Queer Thinking' at Mardi Gras 2021.
Patrick Abboud had seen some of the work I had been doing in community and through ballroom and asked me to join the panel.

Patrick Abboud MG2021
Patrick Abboud

Why do you think something like 'Queer Thinking' is important as part of Mardi Gras?
'Queer Thinking' is important as it is an opportunity for queer voices to be heard and important discussions to be had. As society moves forward, so does our thinking. This provides the space for these progressive conversations to be had. The discussion around Arabic culture and queer identity is one of those conversations that needs to be had and isn’t talked about enough, so I think it's great this is happening.

If there is one thing you could go back and tell your younger self in preparation for life in general, what would it be?
You were never destined to be average and that’s okay. Embrace it and never doubt yourself.

You'll be performing as part of this event. Can you give us a little hint about what you'll be bringing?
The three biggest influences that have shaped who I am is being from western Sydney, Lebanese and a part of ballroom. This performance is an homage to that.

What are you hoping audiences take away from it?
A better understanding around the experience of being Arab and queer in western society of Australia. Along with a deep appreciation for ballroom culture and the impact it has had on queer culture and ballroom culture globally.

'Queer Thinking' panels take place on 27 February throughout the day at NSW Teachers Federation. 'Rising up for 'GAYRABIA'' is on at 6pm.


instagram orange