The First Nations float will lead off the 2019 Mardi Gras Parade once again, with this year’s float branded as ‘Always was, always will be Fearless’.

The float will be preceded by Dykes on Bikes alongside Boys on Bikes and Melbourne Motorcycle Tourers.

“Our float this year is a play on the overall Mardi Gras theme of Fearless,” said spokesperson for the First Nations float Terrence Murphy in a statement.

“It is created and led by First Nations people of diverse gender and sexuality, together with family, friends and supporters.

“The theme highlights the ground-breaking work our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI peers did to pave the way for us today.

“We pay homage to those who were Fearless in a time when it was neither popular nor fashionable to do so.”

Murphy said this year’s First Nations float will be highlighting four key messages: Visibility, Blak Fearlessness, Resistance, and the overall float theme of ‘Always was, always will be Fearless’.

The float is supported by the Aboriginal Project at ACON, and marks the 21st Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community float to be entered into the Parade, but Indigenous Australians have had a presence in the Mardi Gras Parade since the first was held in 1978.

The 1988 float was entered the same year as Australia’s bicentenary in the form of a spoof on the first boat landing of the British, notable for South Sea Islander man Malcolm Cole’s portrayal of Black Captain Cook.

The First Nations float was first positioned at the front of the Parade in 2005 as a Welcome to Country. In the 2019 procession, it will be immediately followed by the Mardi Gras ’78ers as it has in recent years.

Last year’s float, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the First Nations float alongside Mardi Gras’ overall 40th anniversary, was lead off by Cole’s Captain Cook costume under the theme ‘Revolution’.

You can read more about the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement in Mardi Gras at blackmardigras.net.

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