My First Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras

My First Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras
Image: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020 at Oxford Street. Photo: Ann-Marie Calilhanna

Do you remember the anticipation of your very first Mardi Gras?

You finally make that fateful decision to attend the biggest, gayest celebration of queer culture and togetherness on the Australian entertainment calendar and the building tension and excitement seem to be a crested wave you are riding with little control over how you’ll land… but you’re pretty confident you’ll have a blast along the way!

You arrive amongst a growing crowd and the atmosphere doesn’t disappoint – the palpable feeling of acceptance in the air, no matter your size, shape, colour, sexual preference, or gender identity – on this night, you are hundreds of thousands of international hearts, beating as one.

Dykes On Bikes

The human barricades along the parade route are five bodies deep but somehow, everyone catches a glimpse of the circus as it winds along its inevitable journey – lead by the iconic Dykes on Bikes and adoringly followed by a rainbow cacophony of gyrating dance moves, blinding sequins and lots and lots of sweaty flesh.

The importance of the spectacle, the warm embrace of acceptance – all of this was a wonder for a 26-year-old country boy from Cairns in the early 2000s, whose only exposure to such openly displayed gayness until that point had been fevered and sneaky looks at the ABC’s coverage of the parade that started in 1994.

But it didn’t seem real back then, being so far away – Mardi Gras was something that happened “Down South” and had no bearing on the complicated and dangerous life of a gay teenager in Far North Queensland in the 90s.

But being there in person, witnessing that parade for the first time – trying not to stare like a slack-jawed yokel at the sights! 

Hard-To-Purchase Milk Crates

Standing on the ubiquitous but somehow still hard-to-purchase milk crates, riding the atmosphere of love and acceptance and for the first time ever, feeling the especially warm embrace that is community love.

And in 2023, the gay Christmas that is Mardi Gras has an extra special kick, with Sydney WorldPride marking Australia’s first hosting of WorldPride!

That familiar anticipation is building, and with the added excitement for WorldPride and a post-covid tension about to release two years of pent-up party pressure – you’d best hold onto your hats Sydney!

Because the world is coming to celebrate, and at a time when our hard-won rights and freedoms sometimes seem tenuous at best, we gonna get loud!

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