12 April 2004
The Reverend Fred Nile's "Festival of Light" is a very vocal anti-gay group. Both they and the political party they spawned, the Christian Democratic Party, seem opposed to practically everything. In my opinion, one of the greatest ironies of Australian politics was the election of Australian Democrat Senator Brian Greig, one of Western Australia's four openly gay MPs, on preferences from the Christian Democratic Party, much to their chagrin! So what does this have to do with the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade? Well, nothing. Apart that is, from the Nile group's vocal opposition to Mardi Gras and their supposed 'spoiling' tactic of praying for rain every year in the lead up to the parade.
Back in 1978, a protest march hit the streets of Sydney to draw attention to the need for gay and lesbian law reform. From that genesis grew the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, that festival of fabulousness that took me to Sydney last month. Although the political imperative has softened over the years, a serious message still underlies most of the floats as you'll see from some of the images below.
This is my second Mardi Gras. Two years ago, I marched up Oxford Street with the Bears of Australia parade entry. In the midst of Western Australia's gay law reform debate, I carried a sign announcing the obvious to Kalgoorlie MP Matt Birney; That contrary to his assertions, there ARE gays and lesbians among his constituents. In fact, some of my best friends.... *GRIN*. Unfortunately, the message never made it onto the nation's TV screens, so the rabid Matt was let off the hook. But it still felt good to do it!
I missed last year because of my Mum's wedding, so I came back this year intent on watching the parade for the first time. Even though as a participant, you can wander around and check all the floats out beforehand, I wanted to experience the spectacle of the parade from the viewpoint it was designed for. As luck would have it though, the skies opened up on parade night so I watched from a friend's hotel room which overlooked the route. While I stayed dry, it didn't feel quite right up there; It was way too removed from the excitement.
My pictures too, suffer from my lack of tripod on a dark night and I don't even have the excuse of a moving boat. Once again though, although they're a little fuzzy I think they do convey the mood of the parade.
And even though it rained, and it rained heavily, I don't acknowledge that the Festival of Light had their prayers answered this year. As far as I'm concerned, it was all the dancing which was was obviously confused for a rain dance!
P.S. One guess where my memory card filled up? You got it! just as the bears came by! GRRRR
A truckload of icons
Cardinals or Drag Queens?
Beit el Hob (House of Love): Middle Eastern Queers
Lebanese Protection for LGBTQ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer)
Love Not War
For more pics, including some actually in focus, have a look at New Mardi Gras' photo gallery.