This years Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade was one of the largest ever – with so many marching this year that over a thousand people who wanted to were told by organizers that they couldn’t to try to keep the event under its 4 hour allotted length.
The parade began in its traditional way with Sydney’s Dykes on Bikes roaring up the parade route, followed by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and a First Australians group of indigenous Australians.
They were followed by the 2014 Chief of Parade – Gary Trotter from the Polly’s Club - one of the world's oldest social clubs for gays and lesbians – founded in Sydney 50 years ago this year.
Following next were a group of ‘78’ers’ – participants in the original 1978 Mardi Gras that began as a colorful gay rights protest which descended into anarchy when police rioted and beat marchers.
An early standout in the parade were a group of Wikileaks supporters dressed in orange prison jump suits who were calling on the US Government to ‘Free Chelsea Manning’ – the transgender Wikileaks whistleblower who is now transitioning in a US prison.
They were followed by a group of LGBTI Star Trek fans dressed in Star Trek uniforms.
Another group to draw cheers during the early part of the parade were People With Disability Australia – many of who’s marchers were in electric or self powered wheelchairs decked out with rainbow flags.
Later in the parade, spectators were treated to the sight of two pink Daleks who had joined the parade to ‘Exterminate Homophobia.’
Stilt walkers in drag, giant puppets and other performers were scattered throughout the parade – with one of the highlights a giant puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Public service organizations were well represented in the parade with Australia’s defense forces marching in uniform, along with the Australian Federal Police, New South Wales (NSW) Police, NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW State Emergency Service, Transport NSW, the Ambulance Service of NSW and Sydney Nurses.
Australia's Greens, Labor and Liberal parties all had contingents of marchers in the parade with senators Christine Milne from the Greens and Penny Wong from Labor marching.
There was a significant family contingent in the parade with PFLAG and Rainbow Babies and Kids marching one after the other, as well as a contingent of high school students from Macquarie Grammar School and LGBTI youth support service Twenty10.
Faith groups were also well represented with LGBTI Jewish group Dayenu, members of the Metropolitan Community Church marching – as well as a group of a hundred Anglican, Baptist, Uniting Church and Pentecostal clergy marching under a banner that read ‘Equality through Marriage.’
Other groups in the parade, including Australian Marriage Equality, highlighted the need for same-sex couples to be allowed to get married in Australia and it was a strong theme through the night.
The parade closed with a Strictly Ballroom themed ‘Strictly Mardi Gras’ float and performers directed by that film’s director Baz Luhrmann.
Australian singers Delta Goodrem and Paulini also performed in the closing floats of the parade.
GSN will have more photos from the parade for you tomorrow.
GSN was a proud supporter of the 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival for the second year running as its Global News Supporter