They are the time of year I look forward to celebrating my community and my home, with my friends, family, and strangers. Sydney is a magical place and add to it the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival and there is nothing else quite like it. When I lived in Sydney, I loved that moment every year when I would wander up to Oxford St and notice all the overseas visitors that had arrived in town. There was always a day when the energy of the city would change and you knew that Mardi Gras had arrived.
I love how Mardi Gras is the time when all of the ships come back to the shore and friends reconnect. Sharing a moment at Fair Day, a dance at Harbour Party or bumping into each other at Trevor Ashley’s show. I love planning with my friends what we are going to do for the Parade and what we are going to wear to The Party. I love being in a parade float. I love going to rehearsals and learning the dance moves each night leading up to the main event. Wandering around the parade holding area at the bottom of Oxford St with friends, covered in glitter, looking for other friends on other floats. Waiting hours for the parade to begin and loving every moment of the joint anticipation.
There is nothing quite like marching up Oxford St with hundreds of thousands of people cheering. Seeing the faces of individuals smiling and waving in the crowd, strangers mostly, but all connected in the shared experience.
I love that if I have to remember anything over the past 14 years of my life I am able to get a point of reference by recalling what I wore to Mardi Gras that year. Was it the year I wore the white feather mohawk? Or the year I wore the flower outfit? Maybe it was when I went as Spinning Around Kylie? So much happens during Mardi Gras. So many memories and friends are made, it’s like a call to action to get out and live life, be gay, and have fun.
I love dancing and wandering and talking and laughing all night long with 15,000 of my closest friends at The Party. Cramming into the Royal Hall of Industries covered in other peoples’ sweat and fake tan, finding friends, loosing friends, and finding them again. Wondering who will be performing. Braving the fluorescent lighting of the Hordern toilets. Being in awe of the massive scale production shows that Mardi Gras is famous for. Pashing a boy and falling in love for a few hours.
I love stumbling out of the party when the sun is up on a perfect, crisp, autumnal morning. Still in drag, wig slightly askew, beard poking through the makeup, lipstick smudged, covered in dirt from rolling around the forecourt with Michael Whitmore, with a big, proud, content grin from ear to ear. Summer is over now and what a way to finish it off.
For those few weeks each year the colours of life are a little more vibrant and saturated. Things are different, heightened, technicolor. The collective consciousness focused on the celebration of our diversity raises the vibration of the city and culminates in us marching up Oxford St in a statement of who we are. We allow our light to shine bright for all the world to see so that others may be inspired and allow their light to shine bright too.
(Picture: Courtney Act in a promotional photo for her 2014 Mardi Gras show Boys Like Me.)