FAIR Day became a platform for showing solidarity with Russian LGBTI citizens and athletes competing in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics with a mass hand-holding moment.

The protest saw thousands converge in front of the main stage at around 2pm to send a message to the Russian government, which enacted “gay propaganda” laws last year, about its discrimination of LGBTI people in light of the Winter Olympics that started last Friday.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the Asia Pacific Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association joined forces to make the protest happen, which has become the largest contribution to the Same Sex Holding Hands Initiative – an international project started by Pride House International after the Russian government banned them from hosting their traditional Olympic Pride House at Sochi.

Fair Day officially launched the 2014 Mardi Gras festival season, and despite the heat an estimated 70,000 people descended upon Victoria Park in Sydney’s inner-city to enjoy the festivities.

Apart from the mass hand-holding protest, other highlights of the day included the Doggywood pageant and Team Sydney’s Tug-o-War challenge, as well as a large caricature of Vladimir Putin that was paraded around the grounds by Amnesty International volunteers.

Australian showbiz celebrities were also spotted, with Marcia Hines, Paul Capsis and Sophie Monk making appearances.

Stallholders and fairground rides were kept busy throughout the day, and along side the many drag queens, hundreds also used the occasion to dress in costume and buff bodies were aplenty.

Nearly 50 couples also visited the Sydney Gay Weddings stall to get “almost married” by same sex celebrant Stephen Lee, and scores lined up at the NOH8 stall to take part in the international photo marketing campaign that aims to combat homophobia and call for marriage equality.

The main stage area was also busy, with many setting up picnic tents to combat the heat while enjoying the live entertainment on stage.


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Part III

(pictures taken by Ann-Marie Calilhanna) 


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