Fearless in 2019 – The Sydney Mardi Gras Festival
Feature by Jyqa Patano
As the sun set last weekend over Sydney, prismatic colours and everything in between glimmered and dazzled Victoria Park.
Sydney Mardi Gras Fair Day 2019 is one of the biggest and most well-loved community events nation-wide, taking over the park last February 17. The event featured rising new LGBT+ artists such as Detroit-based alt-pop singer-songwriter Flint Eastwood, Melbourne-based synth-pop duo The Marion Cranes and DJ duo stereogamous, blasting tunes and bops all throughout the bright afternoon. There were hundreds of stalls and thousands more attendees, either cooling off at the Park Pool, enjoying the mid-morning performances by LGBT+ artists, burlesque and cabaret artists on the ANZ Main Stage, or dancing the day away on the Absolute Dance Floor with DJs GI Jode, Victoria Anthony, Kate Monroe and Dan Murphy. The party goes on into the night, right across the road in the Festival Club at the Seymour Centre.
Aside from the Koori Gras, featuring local and international First Nations LGBT+ communities, artists and thinkers, and the fabulous vogue Sissy Ball, the next most exciting event is the Mardi Gras Parade.
For the past 40 years, the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade is on at March 2 and shines a well-deserved and hard-earned spotlight on the LGBT+ community, culture and creativity. Thousands of participants party from Oxford Street to Anzac Parade. It’s also possible to enjoy the parade on the side-street –there are viewing areas in the south side of Oxford Street. and on both sides of Anzac Parade, viewing stands in Taylor Square, and an accessible viewing area at Flinders Street.
Creative floats also herald the climax of the Mardi Gras, including Sydney Gaymers’ first-ever collaboration with a major game, Final Fantasy XIV. This is particularly important collaboration, as the multi-player online game, launched in 2010, is one of many hosts of online communities that attempt to foster inclusivity and acceptance. Peak Distapan, organiser for the Sydney Gaymers, explains, “For many LGBTQI+ people, online communities provide a space for the journey and exploration of personal identities.” For Naoki Yoshida, the producer and director for Final Fantasy XIV, the game is a “world people become adventurers, known as the Warriors of Light, and can continue to be free. I would like to continue developing this world, hand-in-hand with communities across the globe.”
As we spoke about in our previous Midsumma Pride March article, there is much to celebrate and be proud of in our bid to achieve more understanding and inclusivity. We continue to move forward, with the Victorian government recently banning gay conversion therapy just this month.
Just as we evolve together as a society, so too does the Mardi Gras celebrate onwards – brighter, louder and prouder, for all ages, orientations and identities.