Lauren Foy

Co-convenor NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby

“2011: This was the year I finally built up the courage, for the first time in my life, to march in the parade. I chose the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby – with its Yellow Brick Road to Equality theme. I dressed as Dorothy, Toto hand bag included. The 58 2008 reforms had just been won despite the risks, the barriers, its size, its enemies. A small group of people were achieving massive things on very a small budget. They were the kind of people I wanted to share this experience with.

I remember being completely catatonic in the marshalling area. Overwhelmed with the noise, people, energy and sense of community. I’d never felt more proud or more connected. I discovered a whole new side to myself — the performer. The person that was usually too shy to speak up was suddenly making a spectacle with 8000 other people about being here, being queer and loving every single moment of it. This was my favourite moment.”

Lauren Foy

Lauren Foy

Stephen Oliver

Actor and writer, Black Comedy

“BEFORE I get to my experience I would like to point out that I will be at this year’s Mardi Gras and that I’m single. I’ve also turned 40 so if you’re out there Mr Right get your sexy, sexy arse into gear because you, my friend, are missing out big time.

Anyway, my favourite Mardi Gras experience was definitely my first Mardi Gras. A group of friends and I were dancers accompanying the First Nations float and we were dressed in these shiny gold lap laps. We also numbered the amount of colours in the pride flag so covered ourselves from head to toe in a colour each. I was green but didn’t think to colour in my ears so from a distance I looked like a lighthouse. Okay, I even looked like one close up.

Despite this (and freezing our arses off as well as the speakers not working), I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing time. To be with my people and peers from all corners of the globe celebrating our identity and having half a million people celebrate with you was unbelievably magical.

Now, where’s my man?”

steven oliver (green)

Steven Oliver (in green) with the First Nations float.

Kat Kiki Vas

Radio host, OX Live

“2014: My favourite Mardi Gras memory was the pop up Drag Bar at the after party. Every queen, that walked in did a number and I even got up at one stage and sang I Love the Nightlife.

It was a night of laughs, love and fun everything Mardi Gras should be!”

Kat Kiki Vas 1 (girl in front)

Warren Fegan


“I HAVE lots of great Mardi Gras memories. But my favourite to date is meeting Calpernia Addams.

I grew up in Darwin. As a queer/trans kid, the only thing that came to mind when I thought of Sydney was Mardi Gras. I saw it as a celebration of community — my community.

I acknowledge the importance of Mardi Gras’ political history and value the work our forebears put in. I also applaud the efforts my peers put in now.

To me, meeting Calpernia was a huge moment. She’s just one person in our community who’s fought hard to make real world change, to actively better the lives of LGBTQIA people.

I was blown away, because I didn’t just meet her, I spent hours hanging out with her. I realised that not only is she the goddess I’d imagined her to be, she’s a bloody lovely human being.

I think about our interactions when I meet people who are creating change. When I feel equally overwhelmed by them, she helps me to remember we’re all just human.

If I wasn’t involved in the parade last year I would never have had that experience. I feel grateful for my community.”

Warren Egan (white tee)

Warren Fegan (white tee)

Greg Gould


“2013: Mardi Gras falls on my birthday every year, which is the first of March and we go out every year for it. I’m not a big drinker and it’s the one time of year I do drink.

I remember I ended up grinding up on Ricki-Lee Coulter to Ginuwine’s Pony. She was living for it.

I had a lot of fun and I’m definitely not a mover or shaker or a grinder (on the dancefloor), but that year, I was all over it.”

Greg Gould

Vicki Harding

Director, Inner City Legal Centre

“MY favourite Mardi Gras moment had to be leading the parade with my partner Jackie and our daughter Brenna in 2005.

It was great to feel supported by our community after being the family in the Play School “two mums” 2004 media storm.

Leading the parade gave eight-year-old Brenna the confidence to believe she was famous, instead of believing the headlines about her ‘illegitimate’ family.”

Vicki Harding with her family

Vicki Harding with her family

Scott McKinnon

Vice-president, Pride History Group

“FOR many years, at every Mardi Gras party (and at every Sleaze Ball) my friends and I had our regular dance floor spot.

It was in a corner of the RHI, three columns in and two across. We would each wander off at various stages of the night, but we would always reconvene at that spot.

From there, we saw fabulous shows (Deborah Cox = Best. Show. Ever.) and heard fantastic music.

We danced, we laughed and we misbehaved. I have lots of fantastic Mardi Gras memories, and three particular friends (you know who you are) are in all of them.

All three were there the night that a tall, good-looking fella on the dancefloor caught my eye. He and I are still together 14 wonderful years later.

Happy Mardi Gras to all and happy anniversary, Jimmy!”


Charisma Belle

Drag queen and entertainer

“MY fondest memory of Mardi Gras is the rehearsal periods.

I have had the pleasure of performing with Tina Arena and Adam Lambert, but the real highlight is meeting all the other dancers and making wonderful friends.

It’s all just so feel good and happy, and being with a bunch of creative people doing something we all love is just magical.”


Ashley André Penin

Creative director, Dream Syndicate

“MARDI Gras 2003 was my first and most memorable.

I’ll never forget the magic of walking into a world full of unfamiliar faces I knew I might cross some day. I often reflect on the same rush of energy consumed by anyone experiencing Mardi Gras for the first time, and hope their experience is the prelude to the marvellous journey ahead.

Happy Mardi Gras 2016!”

Andre Ashely Penin

The Star Observer is a proud media partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

For all of Star Observer’s Mardi Gras coverage, click here


**This article was first published in the March edition of the Star Observer, which is available now. Click here to find out where you can grab a copy in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.

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