78ers To March In Melbourne’s Midsumma Pride March For The First Time

78ers To March In Melbourne’s Midsumma Pride March For The First Time
Image: The original 78ers marching in the 2020 Mardi Gras. Image: Supplied

Forty-five years after the first Mardi Gras in Sydney, a group of 78ers will march for the first time in Melbourne’s Midsumma Pride march this weekend to renew the bond between activists in the two cities. 

LGBTQI activists who took part in the first Sydney Mardi Gras parade down  Oxford Street on the night of June 24, 1978, are known as the 78ers. They include activists who were arrested that night after clashes with police in Kings Cross and those who later joined demonstrations as part of the ‘Drop the Charges’ campaign.

Traditionally 78ers have marched in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras annually. For the first time, a group of 78ers will march in the Midsumma Pride march on Sunday, February 4, in St Kilda, according to First Mardi Gras Incorporated. 

This year’s Midsumma Pride March is expected to see a record turnout with an expected crowd of over 70,000 people taking to the streets of St Kilda. 

Melbourne With 78ers

According to First Mardi Gras Inc., 78ers’ act of solidarity is expected to reinforce the over half-a-century-old bond between activists in the two cities. 

“Many of those activists in 1978 – including those at the first Sydney Mardi Gras – were from Melbourne. Many moved to Melbourne in later years. At the time they shuttled back and forth, and planning the gay law reform campaign in the 70’s was not just state-based – support and solidarity was national,” said First Mardi Gras Inc. in a statement. 

Historical records show that Melbourne-based activists expressed their solidarity with 78ers in 1978 immediately. Six days after NSW police arrested LGBTQI activists after the first Mardi Gras, a rally was held through Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the police conduct. Sydney held its own Drop the Charges rally with over 2000 activists  over a fortnight later on July 15, 1978. 

Midsumma Pride March To See Record Turnout

On Sunday, 78ers from Melbourne, Sydney and regional areas will march under the 78er Fearless! Banner. 

According to Mudsumma, over 18,000 participants have registered to march in the Parade, with over 53,000 expected to line the streets to support the marchers. Over 400 community groups, including Dykes on Bikes Melbourne, Boon Wurrung Elders, Rainbow Aboriginal Float, Minus 18 and Melbourne Rainbow Band,  will march in the Parade. 

“I can’t wait to see a record turnout for the 2024 Midsumma Pride March,” Karen Bryant, Midsumma Festival CEO said in a statement. “Our diverse LGBTQIA+ communities and allies will come together in a spectacular fashion to march with those who can, and in solidarity for those who cannot.”

Midsumma Pride March will be held on Fitzroy Street, St Kilda on Sunday, February 4, 2024. The march will start at 11 am and end at Catani Gardens. The Catani Gardens stage will operate from 11 am to 4 pm, with performances including DJ Maxima, Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Choir, Kitty Obsidian, DJ Miss Katalyna. 

You May Also Like

Comments are closed.