Mardi Gras roaring fun … with a political edge in 2017

Revellers get in some serious dance moves at the  annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney.

Revellers get in some serious dance moves at the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. Photo: AAP

Right on cue the drizzle stopped and thousands of rainbows broke out, but they were not in the sky.

Sydney and its main glitter strip of Oxford Street was awash with a resplendent sea of rainbow flags — fluttering from balconies, pinned to shop windows, waved by the crowd and worn in every way imaginable.

About 200 floats and thousands of performers made for a dazzling Mardi Gras spectacle through the inner-city suburbs of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, and even though it sprinkled in the second half of the parade, it was not enough to dampen spirits.

2017 mardi gras

During the parade

In 2017, the parade was as much about political statements as it was sequins, and this year’s theme was “creating equality”.

Robyn Foster made the trip from Wollongong for the parade, and was leading the Celebrants for Marriage Equality float.

“So many of my colleagues solemnise marriages, but they can’t get married themselves,” she said.

“People have to realise, it’s not just about a piece of paper, there are so many things that will come about making life equal.”

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten marched, as did his deputy Tanya Plibersek and Greens Leader Richard Di Natale.

Despite the party happening on the border of his Wentworth electorate, one notable absentee was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was in Queensland.

The celebrations had a serious side, too.

A tribute float to popstar George Michael, who died last year, was poignant.

Rene Rivas has been coming to Mardi Gras for 35 years and said her rainbow themed costume represented equality.

“I think one of the best things about Mardi Gras is the cultural celebration and diversity for all Australians it gives,” he said.

“This is one of the biggest celebrations we have here and it’s an opportunity from people from all communities to come together and welcome each other.”

There were several groups taking part for the first time.

The Tiwi Island Sistagirls, a group of about 30 Aboriginal transgender women, were able to join the parade after a crowd-funding campaign.


The Sistagirls prepare for the Mardi Gras. Photos: Getty

SistagirlsBut biggest cheers were saved for the 78ers — the group of trailblazing protesters behind Sydney’s first Mardi Gras 39 years ago — who waved from their open-top double-decker bus.

Due to June’s mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Florida, more than 1,000 police officers were deployed across Sydney’s roads, airspace and public transport system to oversee the event.



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