Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

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The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is an annual gay pride parade and festival for the LGBT community in Sydney,
Australia, and is the largest such event in the world. It is held on the Saturday before the beginning of Lent, usually in February.


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 Although the organisers had obtained permission, this was revoked, and the march was broken up by the police. 53 of the marchers were arrested.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.


See Also

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA)

External Links

Article Information
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