Annual Fat Tuesday Celebration Highlights Individuality, Civil Rights Past

The standard Mardi Gras may be over, but there’s still a carnival atmosphere with Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. However, don’t let the party atmosphere fool you;  even though there’s a lot to celebrate, there’s also a lot to commemorate as well.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which lasts from the 8th of February to the 3rd of March, has its origins in both Sydney and America, beginning with America’s Stonewall Riots in 1969. During this event, police attempted to raid a New York gay and lesbian bar called the Stonewall. In retaliation, the patrons barricaded themselves against the police as a protest.  The event is now commemorated as International Gay Solidarity Day.

According to About.com, Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was originally a march commemorating International Gay Solidarity Day, but in 1978, when more than 1000 marchers were taking place in the festivities, the police revoked the march permit, 53 participants were arrested and a riot broke out, ensuing in another 100 arrests at other protests. After the charges were dropped, another march was held in 1979 under the new Mardi Gras name.

Events that have yet to take place include the Ivy Pool Club Bar’s pool party, Sydney Glass Island’s Sunset Cruise and Sydney Tower’s annual TOP party, hosted this year by Willam (RuPaul’s Drag Race) and Rhea Litre. The party will also boast a surprise, internationally-renowned guest.

Of course, the Mardi Gras celebration also provides ample time to learn more about the LGBT community’s Civil Rights history. One way to learn more is by going to the upcoming History Walk, which will begin at Hyde Park Barrack’s Queens Square and traveling throughout the city.

While there are tons of parties and events to take part in, the crowning achievement is the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade, held the 2nd of March, the eve of the celebration’s end. With tons of color, elaborate costumes and a fun atmosphere, attendants at the parade are bound to feel the excitement and creativity the event brings each year.

Even though the event stemmed from protests, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrates how much fun you can have by being yourself. You can learn more about the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras at the celebration’s official site.