Sydney Mardi Gras returns in style
SYDNEY: Thousands of scantily clad revelers danced through Sydney on Saturday for the annual Carnival parade, which returned to the streets of the Australian city for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19.
More than 12,000 protesters – many in glitter makeup – and 200 floats rolled down a crowded Oxford Street, lighting up the beating heart of Sydney’s LGBTQ scene.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took part in the parade alongside drag queens in stilettos, surf lifeguards in “budgie smuggler” swimsuits and muscular men in latex.
“This is a celebration of modern Australia. We are a diverse, inclusive Australia and that’s a good thing,” said Albanese, the first sitting Prime Minister to attend 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 in recent years due to Covid – with organizers ditching the street parade in favor of a sit-down event at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Jamar Mills, 32, said the energy has been “tangible” this year.
“I think Mardi Gras and WorldPride are a great beacon for all people from all corners of the community to come together,” Mills said.
“You can feel that here, the city just feels livelier.”
Huge crowds filled the streets to see this year’s celebrations, which coincided with the WorldPride festival being held in Sydney.
Though the event has firmly entrenched its boisterous party atmosphere, Sydney’s Mardi Gras originally grew out of a 1978 anti-gay rights protest that ended in dozens of arrests.
The parade is still used as a protest vehicle, with floats pushing for LGBTQ rights this year.
But some have accused organizers of spoiling the subversive spirit of Mardi Gras by attracting corporate sponsors – American Express, Google and Meta are all supporters of this year’s event.
There were also calls to ban the police and military from driving floats in the parade.
Extravagant self-expression at the Sydney Mardi Gras parade. (Photo: AFP)
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