Australia’s largest gay parade the Sydney Mardi Gras is currently winding it’s way through the streets of Darlinghurst. This year marks the 35th anniversary of Sydney’s Gay Mardi Gras that started as a protest in 1978 by outraged GLBT people who were constantly harassed by police when it was illegal to be gay in NSW. Varying stories have been told but mostly the drag queens of the day seemed to occupy Oxford Street Darlinghurst and were joined by a few hundred other gay and lesbian people who blockaded Oxford Street in protest. Police reacted violently and swiftly to the protest and there were over 100 arrests that night. There were also more broken bones on that night than arrests.
Today the police and the armed forces of Australia proudly take part in the large night time parade that attracts over 200,000 people to watch it, as the parade winds its way through the streets to Moore Park. With around 10,000 participants in the parade it celebrates freedom and rings out messages of the call for acceptance of all GLBT people in our communities across Australia.
Certainly Mardi Gras means many different things to many people in our community as they travel from across Australia to attend, participate or just watch. To some it means a celebration of justice, some remember a darker time when AIDS claimed many lives from our community and to some it is one big party at the end of the parade. But to those who attend a Mardi Gras most seem to agree it is one of the most liberating experiences of their life. Happy Mardi Gras people!