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Sydney's 2000 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

By Julie Wiskirchen

I began my 7-month working visit to Sydney smack dab in the middle of the month-long Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebration which culminated with the parade and party on March 4. The parade exceeded my expectations, going far beyond the Pride parades I'd seen in the US, injecting the proceedings with the festive, exuberant air of the Greenwich Village Halloween parade. This was a new kind of Mardi Gras atmosphere where "show me your tits" was not a demand. Sure, there was ogling, but there was nothing sexist about it. The parade was a celebration of sexuality in all its forms, with bisexuals, transsexuals, and heterosexual parents of homosexuals all taking part.

The first parade was held in 1978 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City. Since then the parade has grown from a political march into an event that attracts gays from around the world. There were 7,000 participants this year and an estimated 700,000 spectators lining Oxford Street and the other avenues on the parade route. The parade is considered family entertainment. In fact, the parade is typically one of the highest rated television programs of the year. I watched it as it aired in prime time the night after the parade, and I couldn't believe I was seeing marching tampons and a giant penis float on network TV. I kept thinking about the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade broadcast and trying to picture Katie Couric saying, "Look, Regis, there's the dykes on bikes!" Yes, Sydney is definitely more open and liberal, and that's refreshing.

Acting on the advice of the Sydneysiders, I arrived four hours early and snagged a front row spot. What follows are a bunch of the pictures I took (let 'em load...they're worth it, I tell ya!) and some commentary.

Dykes on Bikes kicked off the parade. There were just so many of them in all shapes and sizes, some topless, most in leather. They were rarin' to go and full of attitude.

Flight attendants from several different airlines marched in the parade, renaming their airlines. These local boys, the men of Qantas, got a big reaction from the crowd. Their speedos bore their new name: Qtas.

Amongst a horde of Farrah Fawcetts, Chocolate Farrah stood out. Besides this Farrah, there was 40 year-old Farrah, Playboy Farrah, Ditzy on David Letterman Farrah, and quite a few Charlies Angels era Farrahs.












Despite what Rev. Jerry Falwell might say, this float proves there's room for every sort of couple on Noah's Ark.

The winner of Best Female Costume, Alysse Capri Rainbow nuns!

Penisaurus Rex

This group called themselves "The Bloody Marys." They're protesting a new tax that's been levied against feminine hygiene products. We all know the bloody things are expensive enough! Some of the tampons were adorned with red glitter for an extra festive touch.

One of several tributes to Dusty Springfield, who died this past year.

Here's a float dedicated to Vegemite, known in the US only because of a line in a Men at Work song, but part of everyday breakfast in Australia. Behind the float, guys danced around wearing Sodomite jars.

Caught in an S&M web.

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away to Home! Home being the name of the nightclub where the all-night post-parade party was held.

This was my favorite float, a tribute to the beloved children's book Thomas the Tank Engine.

Check out the photos from the 2001 Sydney Mardi Gras

Then have a look at the photos from the other big event put on by the Sydney Mardi Gras folks, Sleaze Ball

Go here for heaps more Ape Culture articles and travelogues about Australia

Were you there? Dish about mardi gras in the Ape Culture forum. .


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