In February’s sunny Sydney, it means Mardi Gras is fast approaching! For those who don’t know, Mardi Gras is Sydney’s internationally renowned Gay Pride Celebration. The hype and the turnout for Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras gives San Francisco’s Gay Pride a run for its money. Here are some fabulous fun facts about everybody’s favorite rainbow celebration down under!
1. Mardi Gras all started…
in June 1978 when the Gay Solidarity Group organized a march and a series of events to shed light on the discrimination gays and lesbians faced in their daily lives. The police blocked the parade moving down Oxford Street. While attempting to break up the parade violence and police brutality ensued with the night ending in 53 arrests.
The following year, 3,000 people marched peacefully in the parade and more have joined every year in solidarity with Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community.
2. Sydney’s Mardi Gras Celebrations take place…
in accordance with the Catholic calendar. The parade is the same day as Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, the same day as other Mardi Gras celebrations, such as the one in New Orleans. Thus, Mardi Gras typically falls sometime between the first week of February and the first week of March each year.
3. Australia finally legalized same-sex marriage…
on December 9th, 2017 when a new Marriage Amendment Act passed in Parliament. Australia became the 26th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
4. In June 1980,
the parade took place on an extremely cold Australian winter night. Afterwards the organizers decided to move the celebrations to summer.
5. Looking to relive the legendary NYC ballroom scene from Paris is Burning?
The Sissy Ball at Carriageworks is the biggest Vogue Ball in Australia. Every year, contestants battle and slay in categories such as fashion, dance, beauty and runway. With a spotlight on Asia Pacific’s fiercest, most talented queens, Mardi Gras Sissy Ball is one of the most unique spectacular events on the planet which you don’t want to miss!
6. The first AIDS death in Australia occurred in 1983.
Government and community reaction to AIDS was relatively swift in Australia. Many public health programs were created for gays, sex workers and drug users to prevent the rapid spread of HIV and educate people about transmission.
7. Every year travelers from all over the world…
fly in to celebrate Mardi Gras, generating an estimated $38 million for the New South Wales economy.
8. The Tiwi Island Sistagirls,
a group of transgender Aboriginal women from the Northern Territory, joined the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney for the first time in 2017. The Sistagirls documented their struggles with discrimination, suicide and acceptance in their Aboriginal communities with VICE, through which their stories made headlines across the world.
9. Cher, Kelly Rowland, the cast of Orange is the New Black,
George Michaels, Nick Jonas and Chaka Khan have made appearances at Sydney Mardi Gras in the past. Kylie Minogue has performed multiple times over the years.
10. This year’s Mardi Gras festival…
will officially run from February 15th to March 3rd with numerous parties, panels and performances taking place throughout the city!