House Sitting brings you to countries of your choice. Now and again, house sitters like us, leave the animals for a while and go to an event. Trish and I happened to be house/pet sitting in Sydney for the 2017 Mardi Gras. Through past housesitting, we made friends with a couple whose mother’s apartment was on the parade route. What a great opportunity to sit with a drink and watch the incredible outfits and floats. This is one of the largest festivals in the world. It brings out the best in people of all sexual orientations. For LGBTI persons that live in rural communities or homophobic countries, it is a week of LGBTI art, films, fairs, issues and discussions with events. It is estimated that it generates more than A$30 million dollars for the state of New South Wales.
We are Queer, We are HERE.
As with most gay pride parades, Sydney Mardi Gras includes LGBTI members who are in the police, fire, ambulance and military. More and more commercial companies have floats recognising the power of the dollar and genuine belief in equality for all≥
On June 24, 1978 the Gay Solidarity Group met after the Stonewall Riots of the USA. They totalled 500 persons who inspire of the police brutality of the Stonewall Riots decided to march in solidarity. Like their American counterparts they wished to repeal and send a message to the Australian government. Their numbers rose to 2,000 and their slogan was “out of the bars and into the streets.” Although the organisers had obtained permission to march, this was revoked. The police broke up the parade/march. When the protesters reached Kings Cross and were dispersing, the police arrested 53 of the participants. Most charges were dropped, but the newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, published the names of those arrested. This led to the victimisation of men and women who were not out to families or to their employers. Many lost family connections and their jobs.
The Following Year – 1979
History tends to repeat itself and many governments that have imposed restrictions or tried to suppress movements have watched them grow!
The second Mardi Gras Parade occurred in 1979 despite opposition by gay media, businesses and groups. The 1979 parade, in recognition of the Stonewall Riots and commemorating the riot of the previous year, was attended by 3,000 people. In that same year, the Labor Government of New South Wales, led by Neville Wran, repealed the Summary Offences Act so that police arrests would not occur. The theme was “Power in the Darkness.” No arrests were made.
The third, 1980 Parade was watched by a crowd of around 5,000. By 1987 the crowd was estimated at 100,000. This was a sad time as the Aids epidemic raged and with it bigoted and religious hatred that “Aids was God’s punishment.”
1991: National Gay and Lesbian Film Festival included.
1993: Largest night time outdoor parade in the world.
1994: Theme “We are Family” in response to the International Year of the Family. There were 137 floats and over 600,000 spectators. For the first time ABC TV filmed the event.
The 2009 performance figures indicated about 9,500 participants and 134 floats were part of the parade, making it the largest ever.
2011: Up to 300,000 spectators from Australia and overseas turned out in 2011 for the celebrations. That year ‘intersex” was adopted to allow for greater inclusion. It allowed itself to be called by the acronym LGBTQI – (bisexual, transsexual, queer and intersects).
Somethings Never Change – That’s Great!’
Each parade starts with approximately 200 or more Dykes on Bikes – sometimes accompanied by firework displays. The route itself is approximately 1.7 km or 1.1 miles through the Sydney CBD and Darlinghurst.
The parade travels along Oxford Street before turning into Flinders Street. (This is where we viewed it in 2017) If you are in Sydney at this time for the year (Summer) do not miss it. There are parties with international performers.
Another picture seen from our balcony