Saturday's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade brought Sydney to a standstill this weekend.
In a glittering explosion of pride, it's estimated that over 200,000 people looked on as the biggest and longest parade in recent years, made up of 178 floats and 12,500 participants, marched, rolled and danced through the heart of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian district. What a bloody fabulous night it was!
Born from a single night of celebration turned political protest, the true Mardi Gras spirit lives on 38 years later. The Mardi Gras theme of ‘Momentum' saw thousands of LGBTQI people and their supporters from all over the world come together to joyously celebrate how far the community has come, as well as recognise the journey ahead.
This years event saw 12,500 participants in the three hour parade which stretched in to late night partying across Sydney at various venues until the early hours and afternoon of Sunday. Some of the groups participating included:
- The Peoples Republic Of Mardi Gras – The award winning team of marchers and their pink army returned to continue the battle against homophobia and transphobia.
- Muslims Against Homophobia - Muslims Against Homophobia aims to challenge homophobia in Muslim community, and promote queer Muslim rights. The group includes LGBTQI and Non-LGBTQI members and calls for queer Muslims and their supporters to stand up for and promote queer Muslim rights.
- Australian Olympian & Paralympians - Made up of Australian Olympian and Paralympians, this group aims to show that Australia's best athletes support diversity and inclusiveness.
- Sydney AFL Women – with 17 women's teams from across Sydney, Wollongong and the Central Coast, Sydney AFL is made up of a mixture of straight, gay, trans, Muslim, Catholic, Christian participants who all support each other for who they are.
- Sydney Queer Irish – Pirate Queens - Panti, the pirate (drag) queen of Ireland spreads the message of love and equality across the world. A torch – the “burning flame of love” symbolises the connection of Ireland and Australia as Panti calls for Australia to march towards marriage equality.
- Gayby Baby - The film Gayby Baby has drawn a community of supporters over the years of production. With the families that feature in the film and it’s supporters marching, this float says thank you to the community who supported the film over the last 12 months... especially during the media storm and banning of the film in NSW schools.
- Trans* - This group of marchers were walking in support of transgender rights and to deliver a statement of Trans* pride to the world!
- Gay for Ruby Rose – A light-hearted celebration of gender fluidity and sexuality as a spectrum, #GayForRubyRose embraces the idea that true inclusiveness allows that someone might be gay for just one person… and who better to fall for than Ruby Rose!?
Reflecting on the success of the parade, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Michele Bauer praised the behaviour of spectators,
“The combined efforts of everyone involved delivered a stand out Parade. The enthusiasm of all the parade participants made for a truly wonderful experience.”
Bauer also commented on the significance of the years parade and the progress that has been made for the rights and respect of all people, saying,
“While we celebrated the victories, we also had a number of floats dedicated to issues prevalent in society today. Homelessness in the LGBTQI community, refugees, marriage equality and the recognition of transgender rights were all represented widely in this year’s parade.”
Over the last two weeks the 78ers, the participants in the very first Mardi Gras Parade, received a apologies from the NSW Government, Fairfax and the Police for the violent treatment they received on that first night. To watch them come down the Parade route celebrating this historical moment was something the community will cherish.”
Guests of the Party were treated to an incredible line up of international and home grown music acts including: RnB superstar Deborah Cox, Eurovision song contest winner, Conchita Wurst, RuPaul’s Drag Race Top 3 Finalist, Courtney Act, Dirty Pop, Ben Manson, Rado, YO! MAFIA, Tracy Young, Mark Picchiotti, Buck Naked, Mark Alsop MA15+, Victoria Anthony, Kitty Glitter, Maze and Masters, Colin Gaff, Haylenise, Seismic and Tanner Derrby.
The 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade was proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.
PHOTOS: 2016 SYDNEY MARDI GRAS PARADE IN PHOTOS
Photos By Jeffrey Feng Photography