Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
The first Mardi Gras was held on June 24, 1978 at 10pm as a night-time celebration following a morning protest march and commemoration of the Stonewall Riots in New York. Although the organisers had obtained permission, this was revoked, and the march was broken up by the police. 53 of the marchers were arrested. Although most charges were eventually dropped, the newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, published the names of those arrested in full, leading to many people being outed to their friends and places of employment, and many of those arrested lost their jobs as homosexuality was a crime in New South Wales until 1984.
Cultural landmark mixed with civil rights movement
In 1980 a key new element was introduced – the post-parade party. In 1981 the decision was taken to move the event forward to summer to enjoy better weather. The estimates for the parade audiences show it doubling every year till it reached 50,000 in 1984.
A key part of the Mardi Gras experience was the clash between supporters and detractors of the gay community. From the mid-1980s onwards the most notable of the latter was the Reverend Fred Nile, who would pray for rain and turn out to denounce the parade. The event began to enjoy extensive media coverage from the mid-80s onwards and the crowds continued to swell, from 200,000 in 1989 to over 500,000 in 1993.
Today, the Mardi Gras is a 'season' - a festival with approximately 100 different arts events, a 70,000-person daytime picnic called Fair Day, the Parade Post-Parade Party.
In 2006 Conde Nast named it as one of the world’s top ten costume parades in the world. Meanwhile Planetout named it as the best gay event in the world.
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- Josephine Tovey (6 February 2010). "City finds rival for Mardi Gras". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Digital. http://www.smh.com.au. Retrieved 25 February 2010
- "Mardi Gras 2009 Parade". New Mardi Gras. mardigras.org.au. http://mardigras.org.. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
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- "Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras". Australian Museum. austmus.gov.au. http://austmus.gov.au/. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. "New South Wales Year Book, 1998". www.abs.gov.au. http://www.abs.gov.au/. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- Adam Bennett and Vincent Morello (2009-03-07). "Mardi Gras gaiety lightens economic gloom". healdsun.com.au. Herald and Weekly Times. http://www.news.com.au/. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
- "The power of one". Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au
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- (Marsh, I. & Levy, S. (1998) Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras: Economic Impact Statement 1998 Sydney, Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Ltd)
- "Pinkboard History of Post Parade Parties". Party details, including poster artwork for each party. http://www.pinkboard.com.au/history/mardigras/.
- "Economic woes fail to rain on Mardi Gras parade". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2009-03-09. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/03/08/2510295.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-17.