As the world gets ready for the Global Pride Livestream this Saturday, this week also marks the official 42nd anniversary of the very first Mardi Gras Parade.

Wednesday June, 24 marked 42 years since the original 1978 Mardi Gras marchers, the 78ers, marched down Oxford Street in a demonstration of solidarity, bravery and pride.

While many original 78ers still proudly lead the Mardi Gras Parade every year, this year has created a new emphasis for global community connection with the advent of the Global Pride stream.

Australian LGBTQI rights activist and author, a founding member of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP) and original 78er, Peter De Waal, recalled the first Mardi Gras protest in a video message sent to Mardi Gras.

“CAMP Ink was founded 50 years ago in September 1970. I became a foundation member that very same year,” he said.

“At a 1978 CAMP Ink executive meeting, which I attended, the Mardi Gras was named. Ron Austin said ‘let’s have a street party.’ Margaret McMahon replied, ‘we’ll call it a Mardi Gras.’

“I was there. It became a police instigated riot. Police without their name badges pushed us to the ground, pulled us up by our hair and shoved us into paddy wagons.”

 De Waal also noted the importance of Pride, especially in the face of authorised bigotry.

“Pride in our hearts makes us proud about who we are, proud about what we do, and yes, proud evermore,” he said, blowing a kiss to the camera.

Wednesday marked the 42nd anniversary since the original 78er protestors were brutalised by the Darlinghurst police force, and were subsequently named and shamed in the Sydney Morning Herald.

CEO of Mardi Gras, Albert Kruger, sat down on Zoom with 78ers, Diane Minnis and Lance Mumby, about their experiences of activism in the 70s at the dawn of Mardi Gras.

Diane said that while there was historic backlash over the protest, there was also overwhelming support.

“One of the things we were doing was chanting ‘out of the bars and onto the streets,” Minnis said. “Afterwards there was a huge, huge amount of support which came in for the drop the charges campaign, which led to some other major demonstrations.”

Lance also shared his experiences of the evening and noted that the sense of comradery allowed Mardi Gras to become an annual celebration

“We went out into the streets with one of the barmen, who we still know, and we joined the parade down to the end of Oxford Street.

“Initially after the shot, then we went up to the police station and supported those inside that night. It went on from there, and we became a part of the thing year on year.”

 While 2020 Mardi Gras continued this tradition, hundreds of Pride festivals from across the globe were cancelled this year due to Covid-19. However, the Pride spirit lives on this year with the Global Pride 24-hour online broadcast.

Coordinated by InterPride and Mardi Gras, 2020 Global Pride will reach up to 300 million views globally with Aus and NZ set to start the show with two and a half hours of footage from Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia and New Zealand are the first cabs off the rank for this year’s Global Pride Event, set to be streamed online here from 3 pm, Saturday June 27.

Kruger said that the Australian content of the show will begin at 4:15 pm Sydney time, so it’s among the first countries to start the show. As such, he noted the importance of genuinely showcasing our proud history in the southern hemisphere.

“Global Pride will reach an online audience of millions across the planet. We want it to be truly global, including a spectacular online showcase of the Asia-Pacific’s best LGBTQI talent, and giving the world an inspiring and informative window into our rights in the region.”

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