Post by Portia
Hi there APJ Crew,
Last night we had the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. It’s a hugely popular event down here and with perfect weather conditions the streets of Sydney were chockablock. It’s estimated that 2016 could be the second best attended Mardi Gras in the history of the parade going all the way back to 1978. Police are saying 300,000+ people lined the parade route. There were 103 floats that ranged from the Australian Police & Armed Forces, Politicians (it was the first time ever for a Federal Opposition Leader to march in the parade and our Prime Minister was in the VIP section watching), various businesses (ANZ, Twitter, Google, Facebook, AirBnB, QANTAS + many more), out Health workers (from nurses and doctors to dentists and mental health workers) and the myriad social groups that have grown around Australia across the many different tribes and subcultures of the LGBTIQ community.
This year I was invited to host the Sideshow Glam Stands with Australia’s current Mr Movies Andrew Macardo, with whom I was at MTV many moons ago, though we had different shows. Over the years I have done it at least ten times but last night felt extra special. Why? Well firstly I had organised a bus to bring in 47 people from my Trivia nights and for many of them it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus I grabbed some others of my mates tickets too so there ended up being nearly 70 of my buddies in the crowd, I felt like I was having a chat with my mates and explaining some things that they probably didn’t know about the LGBTIQ community. It created a real sense of family for me on the night, and hopefully for the rest of the crowd.
Secondly, the Dykes On Bikes invited me to become part of their parade entry. Doesn’t sound incredible but let me put that in perspective for you. Sydney’s GLBTIQ community is notoriously clique driven. People will find their tribe and stick fairly close to them. The one time in our history when that changed was during the 1980s & 90s when HIV/AIDS hit and suddenly we were all galvanised into a single entity fighting to help our crews who were dying. There were fundraisers, marches, charity events, dance parties and the ever present funerals of the young, beautiful, talented and wonderful friends that we lost too soon to the illness or suicide. Since the diagnosis of HIV is not a guaranteed death sentence and is now a life sentence of drug regime (like diabetes, liver malfunction or any number of chronic diseases) the community has splintered.
So, to be invited to be the first ever non dyke to ride with the Dykes On Bikes was an astounding and momentous occasion. Pillion passenger on the last bike of hundreds and riding in the wake of a mass of womanity and feeling the love and hearing the roar of the crowd was a highlight of my life, a life that has been filled with wonderful. The women could not have been friendlier or more welcoming and I was so nervous and excited that my teeth were buzzing. My only sadness is that most of you will never know how it feels to be a part of that moment, that incredible overflowing magic that I felt (completely drug and alcohol free).
Oh and for those of you who care about fragrance I was wearing Truth or Dare by Madonna. There was a rumour that she was going to close the afterparty so I thought it would be cool to open the weekend with her too.
So thank you Mardi Gras 2016. You were amazing.
Mardi Gras 2016: Photo Essay
Some of the pictures are mine, some stolen from my friends on facebook and my BFF Kath gave me the video and some pics too. I hope you enjoy a fleeting look at the 6 hours that made up my night.
Yes, that’s me waving like a lunatic in the flesh dress on the back of a bike. WOO HOO!
I know it’s hard to get a sense of the fun and excitement through these static photos. You need to come to Sydney for Mardi Gras Parade. First Saturday in March. Come, we’ll look after you.
Happy Mardi Gras.