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Sydney: Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020 – What Matters?

What matters to comedian Bob Downe (pictured front and centre) for Mardi Gras 2020 is “Not being run down by one of the new Sydney Trams” as they move among us in Sydney, without passengers, like some robot silent disco.

“What Matters” is the theme of the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to embrace the issues of the LGBTI+ community (and the rest of us). The issues in 2020 range from belonging to sustainability.

Kat Dopper, the Creative Director, escaped her childhood two-lesbian town of Combo, and resplendent in a borrowed Jenny Kee dress in November 2019, announced a program  of favourite  Mardi Gras events and well as contemporary events for 2020. Combo is much the poorer, now, as a one-lesbian town.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020 Events List

This year among the fair day, pool, parade, and kaftan parties and queer screen films there’s also live performance at the Seymour Centre festival hub:

  • “Fuck Fabulous” A neo-punk anti-glamour reality cabaret.
  • “The Campaign” A gripping account of Tasmania’s decades- long gay law reform campaign 
  • “Hudson and Halls” Two well soaked New Zealand cooks battle 16 bottles of sherry exercising their questionable cooking skills to create a five-course meal.
  • And of course, Eurovision’s favorite bearded diva paired with our own  less hirsute drag queen “Conchita Wurst and Trevor Ashley in Concert”.

The program, listing many more events, is online now, offering plenty of time to polish your tinsel, bleach your bunny ears and practice strutting on those oh so high heels. Mark Ferguson, Sydney

VIP Tickets for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020

If you’re in Sydney between 14th February and 1st March 2020 you can buy VIP viewing tickets for $154.91 and help yourself to the bar. Or – join thousands along Oxford Street and Flinders Street, Darlinghurst – in the queue for a view. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade is the only thing that matters to most  people and it takes place from 7.30pm until 11.00pm on Saturday 29th February. If you volunteer you also gain VIP privileges for all your hard work.

More to the Mardi Gras than an Absolutely Fabulous Army

There is more to the Mardi Gras than just a parade with Patsy Stone (Absolutely Fabulous) lookalikes marching in a Patsy Army. It has been crucial to gay and lesbian equal marriage rights in Australia and the push back against the bad old days of 1970’s poofter-bashing. It also carried Sydney people through the AIDS crisis at its worst.

This poster was created by David McDiarmid (1952-1995). By 1994, more than 3380 people had died in Australia from AIDS-related illnesses.McDiarmid also collaborated closely with the Australian designer, Linda Jackson. He was art director of the Sydney Mardi Gras workshops from 1988 to 1990 and himself died of AIDS on 25th May 1995, just seven years after he had created this brilliant image.

The poster, below, arrived ten years after the very first parade took place on 24th June 1978. It ended in police brutality and 53 arrests. The Sydney Morning Herald did not cover the first parade but published the names of those arrested leading to many losing their jobs and homes.

It’s hard to believe now, that the Mardi Gras has become mainstream entertainment and a tourism must, but in 2020 you can help yourself to cocktails, a front-row seat and tickets for one of the best shows in Australia. Or better still, why not volunteer?

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Poster by David McDiarmid


Oxford Street, Sydney NSW, Australia