Sydney Australia - March 2005

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Sydney Mardi Gras 2005

A massive crowd of more than 450,000 turned out to watch the 28th annual Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. After a scaled-down Parade in 2003, when it looked as if there may be no Parade at all, and a rained-soaked 2004 event that kept numbers down, 2005 will be remembered as the year that Mardi Gras returned to its fabulous best. Around 130 floats treated an enthusiastic crowd to a mix of protest, politics, satire, camp and plain old fun. Now in their 18th Mardi Gras parade year, the Dykes on Bikes joyfully led proceedings along Oxford Street.  Soon after, the mood turned sombre as New Mardi Gras’ own lead float and marching group highlighted in spectacular fashion the more than 80 countries in the world in which homosexuality is still illegal.More than 80 people carried the flags of countries which outlaw and severely punish homosexuality, such as Pakistan, India, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Singapore and Malaysia.

The Australian PM John Howard and US President George W Bush featured prominently in the procession. The two world leaders’ likenesses appeared getting married in cheeky protest against their opposition to same sex marriage. The political and legal discrimination against same-sex marriages was a stand-out feature in the 2005 Parade. On another float, a mock Prime Minister chased a mock Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone around some dancing superheroes called the Incredi-gays.

New Mardi Gras Co-Chair, Mark Orr, had this message for Mr Howard. “The fight for equality is not over. Our relationships won’t be second class,” he said. Radio host John Laws who complained in his talk show about two gay men in reality renovation program The Block also came under fire in this city-stopping march, known across the globe for its pillorying of high profile figures. Play School’s controversial My Two Mums segment, which came under fire from most sides of politics for depicting a girl with lesbian parents, also earned its spot on Oxford Street. Eight-year-old Brenna Harding and her real-life two mums, Vicki Harding and partner Jackie, were named chiefs of the parade and rode at its head in a convertible car.

“It’s a bit special”, Brenna, perhaps the parade’s youngest participant said. “You get twice as much stuff, and if one’s angry the other one will stick up for you”. One of her mums, Jackie, said being chiefs of the parade was an ideal opportunity for people to see them as a happy and ordinary family. “It’s about our freedom to love who we want to love,” she said. “It’s about our right to be a family in the same way that other families are families. It’s about our right to know Brenna is safe and happy at school.”

There was also a celebration of late Queen front man, Freddy Mercury, a gay water polo display in the back of a truck filled with water and well-received entries from the state and federal police forces. More than 40 men went as Dafydd from the cult television comedy Little Britain - a mere fraction of the more than 6,000 gay and lesbian parade participants. Other highlights included the mock marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

The Parade concluded with a show-stopping performance at Taylor Square from Cher impersonator, Candi Stratton, who had travelled the Parade route in the latest Lotus Elise sports convertible. After the Parade, a capacity crowd partied till beyond dawn at the legendary Mardi Gras Party. The event sold out on the night, with a total of 19,000 people cramming the seven different dance spaces. Revellers were treated to a smorgasbord of local and international talent, with performances from Euro-vision Nicki French and home grown talents Tina Arena and Darren Hayes.

Dutch DJ, 4 Strings, played an amazing 10-hour set in Fox Studio’s Hordern, which also featured a stunning laser display, the likes of which have never been seen in this country before.
The New Mardi Gras Guest Bar was awash with visiting celebrities, including US pop-star, Pink; girl-about-town, Anna Nicole Smith; and Fergie’s sister, Jane Ludecke.

ACON’s drug rovers again ensured that everyone partied safely, with no serious incidences to report.

The next New Mardi Gras Party, Sleaze 2005, will take place on Saturday, 1 October. The 2006 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade will take place on Saturday 4 March 2006.

 Recommended Sydney web sites:

Sydney Mardi Gras

SX News

Australian Gay Guide

Sydney Gay Map

Sydeny Star Observer

Azure Harbour Party

ToyBox Afterparty

The MidnightShift

Queer Nation

Arq Nightclub

Stonewall Hotel

Sydney City Steam

KingSteam Sauna

Bodyline Sauna

See Sydney

HeadQuarters bar

Mazz Image

ManAcle bar

Sydney Marriott Hotel