A group of 78ers – the first Mardi Gras protesters from 1978 – will join the Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne for the first time this weekend.
The Victorian capital’s annual Pride March is on Sunday (February 4). Over 18,000 people and 400 queer organisations are registered to march before tens of thousands more spectators.
For the first time, an official contingent of 78ers will be among them, marching with their “Fearless” banner.
“78ers” refers to those who participated in the original Mardi Gras Parade violently broken up by police on June 24, 1978, as well as the activists who protested and campaigned to free those arrested.
Among the 78ers were many activists from Melbourne, as well as some who subsequently moved interstate to Melbourne.
On Sunday, 78ers from Sydney and regional areas will travel to Midsumma to march with local 78ers, some for the first time.
“Many of those activists in 1978 – including those at the first Mardi Gras – were from Melbourne. Many moved to Melbourne in later years,” a 78ers spokesperson explained.
“At the time, they shuttled back and forth. Planning the gay law reform campaign in the 1970s was not just state-based. The support and solidarity was national.”
That included snap demonstrations in Melbourne, as well as capitals Brisbane and Adelaide, the 78ers said.
Record turnout expected at Midsumma Pride March
On Sunday, the Midsumma Pride March will be a loud and proud celebration along Fitzroy Street in St Kilda.
Marchers will also include members of 400 other queer organisations, including Dykes on Bikes Melbourne, Boon Wurrung Elders, Rainbow Aboriginal Float, Minus 18, the Melbourne Rainbow Band and many more.
The march is a major event in the three-week 36th annual Midsumma Festival calendar. CEO Karen Bryant expects a record turnout at the Pride march.
“Our diverse LGBTQIA+ communities and allies will come together in spectacular fashion to march with those who can, and in solidarity for those who cannot,” she said.
Post-march celebrations continue afterwards at Catani Gardens on Sunday.
Next month, the 78ers will again lead this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. The Parade returns to Oxford Street, Flinders Street and Anzac Parade on March 2, 2024.
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