Wednesday, 29 March, 2023

Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade returns to packed streets

Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade returns to packed streets

SYDNEY: Thousands of scantily clad revellers danced through Sydney on Saturday for the annual Mardi Gras parade, which returned to the city’s streets for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19, reports AFP.

More than 12,000 marchers — many of them painted in glitter makeup — and 200 floats rolled down a packed Oxford Street, lighting up the vibrant heart of Sydney’s LGBTQ scene. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took part in the parade, alongside drag queens in stilettos, surf lifesavers in budgie smuggler swimwear and muscular men in latex.        This is a celebration of modern Australia. We’re a diverse, inclusive Australia and that’s a good thing, said Albanese, the first sitting prime minister to take part in the Mardi Gras.

People want to see that their government is inclusive and represents everyone no matter who they love, no matter what their identity, no matter where they live, he told a reporter.

Mardi Gras is a highlight of the city’s social calendar but has been disrupted due to Covid in recent years — with organisers canning the street parade in favour of a seated event at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Jamar Mills, 32, said the energy this year was palpable.

I think Mardi Gras and WorldPride represent a great beacon for all people of all corners of the community to come together, Mills said.

You can feel that here, the city just feels more vibrant.

Huge crowds packed the streets to watch this year’s celebrations, which coincided with the WorldPride festival being held in Sydney.

Although the event has firmly embraced its boisterous party atmosphere, Sydney’s Mardi Gras originally grew out of a 1978 gay rights protest that ended with dozens of arrests.

The parade is still used as a vehicle for protest, with floats this year pushing for LGBTQ rights.

But some have accused organisers of spoiling the subversive spirit of Mardi Gras by attracting corporate sponsors — American Express, Google and Meta are all backers of this year’s event.

There have also been calls to ban the police and the military from running floats in the parade.