The Dykes on Bikes always lead the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade in late February in Sydney. They throttle loudly through the two and a half kilometre route, from the end at Moore Park to start at Hyde Park and back again. They are followed with a little less bravado by the Boys on Bikes. The roar of Harleys announce to the patient crowd of 300,000 that the parade is about to begin.
With about 120 floats, 12,000 marchers, and voluminous tinsel, Mardi Gras is a free event and atmosphere Goddesses must embrace.
Starting at 7pm and finishing about 10:30pm it’s wise to plant yourself with a flashy sun hat, and a bottle of bubbly about 4pm or 5pm to squat a good vista. We found handled little folding stools for about $5 at both Diaso and Kmart, good for claiming an early spot at the front or to stand on at the back if you can’t be bothered with the wait. You might be lucky enough to know someone with an apartment on Oxford Street or Flinders Street. Alternatively, the cashed up Goddess can purchase a premium pew at Taylor Square at the intersection of these streets.
The Goddess Editors caught some fabulous shots in that golden hour of sunlight before dusk and before the parade began. The jubilant mood was contagious and flamboyant.
Goddesses can see a lot of boy flesh, much inaccessible to them , but nonetheless good for the eyes! The lads from Poof Doof dance with inexhaustible energy the full route of the parade and then dance all night at the after party.
Community groups like Beyond Gender accessorise golden skin with golden lame.
Corporations such as Loreal, ANZ , Vodaphone, Qantas and Gl-Amazon enter well financed floats to thanks their LGBTIQ+ customers and staff. Sydney’s legendary Lord Mayor, Clover Moore and local NSW Government member Alex Greenwich are long term supporters of these communities and always visible in the parade.
In 2020, after Australia had suffered a devastating five months of bush fires and grey smoked filled skies, the Rural Fire Service and other emergency agencies – many participating in Mardi Gras for the first time – joined as heroes celebrating the return of blue sky and safety for their neighbours.
The first Mardi Gras in 1978 was not so full of joy. It was a protest march for Gay and Lesbian rights brutally oppressed by the NSW Police. The parade recognises the early protestors, the 78er’s, who shouldered the plight to live and love as we feel and changed Australian laws and attitudes. At the pre parade press briefing the police chief in charge of the event was respectful of errors of his department’s past and re-assured us they were not the “Fun-Police”. They are visible on foot, on horse and on bicycles diligently ensuring everyone stays safe and gets assistance if needed. The police, now have own group pf Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (“Glow!”) that work throughout the LGBTIQ+ community.
Individuals, also, spend months creating costumes to take part in the parade. Some older gents had made costumes from trash around their homes to draw attention to youth obsessed culture. While they were, touch-in-check, reminding us not to treat people as rubbish once they pass 25 years old, they were joined for our shot by a couple of Japanese girls who sometimes suffer similar agism in their home country and are called “Christmas Cakes” as no-one wants them after the 25th. The LGBTIQ+ community has learned to use humour rather than anger to raise and resolve their issues.
If you are travelling to Sydney in late February, pack your highest heels or your shiniest boots, your shortest skirt or you most colourful overalls, your most uplifty bra or most studded leather vest and throw yourself into this most joyous and optimist event that celebrates and reinforces the diversity of Sydney we love.