In 1978, Sydney held its first ever Mardi Gras parade. A small group gathered in Taylor Square to celebrate LGBTQI+ culture and to promote fair treatment for queer people. The small parade was disbanded by violent police arrests. Society has come a long way since ‘78; Mardi Gras is now an established and well-loved annual event that takes over the streets of Sydney at the end of Summer. This year, for the 45th anniversary of Mardi Gras, World Pride is being held in Sydney for its Southern Hemisphere debut.
The theme for this year’s World Pride is GATHER, DREAM, AMPLIFY. It calls for participants to “listen deeply, learn, take action, protest and party”. GATHER, DREAM, AMPLIFY encapsulates not only the joy and festivities that Mardi Gras is known for, but also the continuing need for Australians to acknowledge and fight against injustices towards LGBTQI+ people. At Woven Threads, we have shared stories of people like Jett, who have faced discrimination based on their sexuality. The bullying that Jett endured caused him to feel depressed and anxious. He found a way through these tumultuous feelings by expressing himself using dance and acting - the things that he loved to do. World Pride Sydney is an opportunity to use dance, music and performance as a way to celebrate one's identity, rather than to shy away from it.
Watch a preview of Stories from Within: Jett here.
Art shows, seminars and parades will take place in Sydney from February 17 - March 5. Local universities, galleries and theatres have stepped up to get involved in the celebration, and the program is extensive. In recent years, Mardi Gras has faced controversy by making the main parade a paid event. Lovers of the parade claimed that this isolated lower income LGBTIQ+ people from joining in on the festivities. This year however, the Mardi Gras Parade will return, unticketed, to Oxford St, allowing every member of the community to participate no matter their financial situation.
Whether you will be in Sydney during this period or joining from online, make sure to GATHER with your community, DREAM about the future you want and AMPLIFY LGBTQI+ voices.
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