Happy Mardi Gras Sydney!
What a wonderful night of pride, self expression and celebration!
It’s been named as one of the world’s top ten costume parades in the world and has become an international icon. It all started in such a grassroots way when back in 1978 when a group of a few hundred protesters marched down Oxford Street. It was part of the support for the Stonewall riots in America and part of the protest about Mary Lighthouse coming to Australia to speak. They had one float and some were dressed up in costumes. Police arested over 50 people and threw them into gaol were they were beaten up.
It was a pretty amazing civil rights victory because in 1979 the NSW Summary Offences Act was repealed. What this meant was that protesters didn’t have to get an official permit to hold a public protest anymore, all they needed to do was tell the police about it. In 1979 almost three thousand people marched and the parade kept getting bigger every single year.
A new Australian study has shown that The Sydney Mardi Gras has actually helped battle homophobia within families, helped people “come out” and feel happy with their sexual identity. Just the occurence of the parade helped people even if they’d never been to Sydney, to the parade or if they lived all over Australia… It’s more about what the Mardi Gras stands for in a time when many of our citizens can still recall when homosexuality was illegal. I found the pre interesting to see how the parade has such a positive influence on the public consciousness no matter where you live.
More than 80 LGBTI people between 20-93 years of age were interviewed all across Australia. Some of the interviewees said that the watching the Mardi Gras on television gave them the courage to come out. If they were living in a small country town with a homophobic family, seeing the parade on tv together made it an easier topic to talk about and helped break down taboos and stereotypes about homosexuality.
Dr Shirleene Robinson of Macquarie University said;
“From people in retirement homes in Launceston to cattle properties on the outskirts of Adelaide, there is something to do with Mardi Gras’ scale, what it represents and the way people saw it growing up. It is political, it is commercial, it is community and it’s really important to the Australian idea of being lesbian and gay.”
To everyone going to the parade I hope you all have a wonderful time! Play safe and look out for each other! Happy Mardi Gras!