46 Years of Sydney Mardi Gras

APN Mardi Gras Parade photo by Jeffrey FengToday marks 46 years since the first Sydney Mardi Gras. On a cold winter day in 1978 hundreds of pioneers – our beloved 78ers – took to the streets for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, women and the First Nations communities.

That day changed the course of LGBTQIA+ rights in Australia forever.

Decades later we still come together each year for Sydney Mardi Gras, moved to summer in 1981 the celebrations now welcome hundreds of thousands of people to our glittering city. Through the AIDS crisis, constant social and political attacks, the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, rain, hail and shine – we never stopped marching.

To our beautiful communities – we promise to continue creating spaces for you to connect, celebrate, build lifelong memories and see your true selves shine. You inspire us every single day, and will always be the true heart of Sydney Mardi Gras.

To the 78ers – your courage, leadership and determination brought us so many of the privileges some of us enjoy today. We will forever be driven by your spirit and legacy.

The 45th year was one for the history books – we welcomed over 1m attendees to the first WorldPride in the Southern Hemisphere, saw the Parade route added to the NSW Heritage Register, marched into Our Future… and welcomed a raft of new events including Hot Trans Summer to the Festival calendar.

We were inspired to see our communities find new ways to come together following the unexpected cancellation of Fair Day due to asbestos in Victoria Park and band as one through the tragic loss of two shining stars of our local community.

Despite 46 years of progress, we still have a long way to go as we move toward true equality for LGBTQIA+ people in Sydney, Australia and the world. As we mark this anniversary, the Alex Greenwich Equality Bill has recently passed a parliamentary inquiry, paving the way for its consideration by the NSW Parliament.

If successful, the Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTQIA+) Bill 2023 will amend 20 different laws to promote equality. This includes closing exemptions that allow religious schools and organisations to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people, recognising more rainbow families, and ensuring trans people can access birth certificates without facing cruel and unnecessary barriers.

Notably, NSW is the last jurisdiction in Australia that requires trans people to undergo surgery on their reproductive organs to obtain ID documents that accurately reflect their gender.

The history of Sydney Mardi Gras: From 1978 to now, explore the interactive online timeline of Sydney Mardi Gras – featuring interviews, archival footage and all the magical and monumental moments from the past 46 years.

For more information about Sydney Mardi Gras, visit: www.mardigras.org.au for details.

Image: Mardi Gras Parade – photo by Jeffrey Feng

Words: Sydney Mardi Gras