Around 1000 people gathered Friday, June 24, to create a giant Progress Pride flag on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

The human rainbow display of pride commemorated the 44th anniversary of the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 1978.

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The colourful ceremony also launched Sydney WorldPride 2023, which takes place from February 17 to March 5, 2023.

Indigenous Artist Daniel McDonald delivered the Acknowledgement of Country.

“I’d like to talk about hope,” he said. “We all need to hold on to hope, that we believe in a better future. 44 years ago, there was a movement that began that was fueled by hope.

“Many people had dreams and hopes and they struggled to see those finally realized. Because they fought, we are now able to enjoy the freedom that we have today.”

The speakers at the event also included Minister for the Arts Benjamin Franklin, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, CFO for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Gil Beckwith, and 78ers Co-Chair Diane Minnis.

Image: Getty Images

Franklin: ‘What You’re Doing is Something Profoundly Important’

Addressing the 1000 rainbow-coloured volunteers, Franklin reflected on what this meant to him. Talking about growing up in the country, he said,

“I didn’t see representation of a community that I associated with. And that was really tough for me. But what you’re doing is something profoundly important. You’re standing up and you’re going to be seen and to be seen you have to be seen.

“And I want you to know that you’re doing it for that little kid in the country, who will look at you and what you represent and who you are and know that that kid has a path and will be acknowledged and will be seen and has a future. So, thank you.” 

Speaking with Star Observer, Franklin applauded the appropriateness of the day, saying,  “We want the eyes of the world to be on it and today being, of course, the 44th anniversary of the first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Such an important day to reflect on where we’ve come from, and also where we’re going. So today is the obvious day that we should be launching World Pride.”

‘Mardi Gras is Sydney WorldPride’

Beckwith, during her speech, explained that “Mardi Gras is Sydney WorldPride. Over three weeks our city will come alive with queer events, including queer parties, theatre, art, sport and countless community-focused events.” 

Speaking with Star Observer, Moore, with excitement in her voice, said, “We’re inviting the world to our beautiful city to celebrate with us.” 

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Moore continued, “The planning has been amazing. The city has been supporting it from day one. We’re very excited about it. Because we’re very strong supporters of the LGBTQ+ community.” 

Moore then smiled as she said, “I love Mardi Gras – it’s the happiest time of the year. This is going to be Mardi Gras writ large.”

Image: Daniel Boud

Dai Nguyen, a volunteer wearing yellow in the human Progress Pride flag, spoke with Star Observer about taking part in the ceremony. 

“I wanted to be part of the thousand-strong human Progress Pride flag under the sails of Sydney’s most iconic building. It was such a beautiful day and I’m so happy I can volunteer for Sydney WorldPride and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras,” he said.

Nearly 1 million people are expected to take part in the 17-day celebration of Sydney WorldPride.

WorldPride started in 2000 in Rome. Since then it has been held in London, Toronto, Madrid, New York, and, most recently, Copenhagen.

For information on Sydney WorldPride 2023 go to sydneyworldpride.com

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