If you thought London Gay Pride was fun, think again. Australians are doing it bigger and better with a whole month filled with LGBT excitement. Saturday 5th March will mark the 38th annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) Parade.
With around a quarter of a million people expected at the parade alone, this year won’t be short of surprises. You can expect performances from Tina Arena and Eurovision queen, Conchita, a 5k run promoting diversity, shows from the indigenous LGBT community, as well as the party to end all parties: 10hours of dancing in one of the biggest venues in Sydney.
But Mardi Gras is also about “providing a safe and comfortable space for self-expression. The festival is a platform for people to voice their issues to the wider community, and a place of celebration,” says Michele Bauer, CEO of SGLMG in an interview with Qantas.
“If people walk away feeling joy and happiness and are motivated to be themselves fully and continue to pursue their passion, we have done our job!”
Although Australia’s LGBT rights are gradually progressing since 1978 – the year when the first gay pride was held in Sydney – charities and lobbies are still constantly fighting for a better recognition of LGBT rights.
“We’re in a really intersectional period of change at the moment where we are able to speak freely as we march down Oxford Street in Sydney during Mardi Gras. However, any other day of the week I spare a thought for those who can’t. Whether that be because they are ‘the only gay in the village’ or are refused support or services because of Australia’s Anti-Discrimination laws,” explains Lauren Foy from the New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.
Recently, Australian Senator Joe Bullock has announced he will quit politics as he couldn’t bring himself to back his party views in favour of Marriage Equality. Even though law makers are dragging their heels over equal marriage, attitudes are changing in Australia.
According to Lauren Foy, change also needs to come from the people. “We as a community can’t sit back and just assume things will happen. We need to ask the questions, hold our politicians to account, have high expectations that we can live in a fairer and more just New South Wales and Australia.”
Facebook even played their part by partnering with the Australian Marriage Equality organisation and added the possibility for supporters to add a rainbow frame to their profile pictures. If the feature is later rolled out across Facebook it will be made available to all organisations.
In the meantime, grab some glitters and your favourite rainbow flag and let’s raise a glass to celebrate one of Sydney’s most anticipated days of the year.