A large contingent of Queenslanders were among the 12,000 participants in the 40th anniversary Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade last Saturday night.
Organisers said an estimated 300,000 people lined Oxford Street as the city filled with rainbows for the annual event.
Brisbane LGBTIQ swim team Aqualicious’ Mardi Gras float was titled “Let’s get physical: exercise your rights” and participants wore fluoro 1980s colours as they performed a routine tributes set to gay icon Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 camp classic “Physical”.
“The atmosphere was really exciting. Everyone was so happy, the whole city just shuts down for Mardi Gras and everyone is just having so much fun,” Aqualicious president Fernando Claro said.
“We got so much support from all the other sporting teams who were marching. When we got on our way, all of them were cheering us on.
“We all get ready together in Hyde Park, so we had a chance to mingle and say hello to all of the people that we know and meet people in some of the other floats.”
Forty volunteers from Cairns Tropical Pride represented north Queensland atop Cairns’ first Sydney Mardi Gras float since 1994.
Organiser Kevin Scott said the float’s tropical theme was based around the Great Barrier Reef and “all the things we have up in Cairns that we’re proud of.”
“The truck’s going to be the reef, with clams and mermaids and other sea animals like crocodiles, turtles and jellyfish. We’ll also have our large rainbow flag at the back,” he explained ahead of the parade.
Around 70 athletes from the Brisbane Tritons water polo team marched in their annual float, and president Sean Langeveld said the players had been practicing their parade choreography in Brisbane for weeks.
“We had an absolute blast. It was pretty special to be part of the 40th anniversary, and even more special to have Tritons with us experiencing their first Mardi Gras,” he said.
The Sydney Leather Pride Association marked the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras with a special “40 years of Australian Leather and Fetish Pride” float and invited members of leather groups around the country to join in.
Mr Queensland Leather 2017 Scott Lovegrove was one of the members of Brisbane leather group BootCo who joined the float.
“Mardi Gras is more than just a celebration of gay, it’s a celebration of humanity,” he told The Guardian at the parade.
“There’s so much happiness and love… You have no idea what it’s like to walk up there and see people reach out and embrace what we do.”
More than 12,000 people took part in this year’s parade on 200 floats, including a group of 250 of the original “78ers” who had travelled from all over the country to reunite for the event’s 40th anniversary.
Superstar Cher, who was the headline performer at the Mardi Gras afterparty, made a surprise appearance in the parade on Saturday night as it moved along Sydney’s Oxford Street.
“I love that everybody is having such a good time and there’s no feeling of any kind of anger, there’s no negativity and that’s what I like most,” Cher said at the parade.
“All the people with everything hanging out, and fabulous girls with their slap on and big hair and no clothes… I love it.”