The first Saturday in March marks one of the biggest parties in Sydney every year, as the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade shuts down the center of Australia’s biggest city for a night celebrating the LGBTQ community.
This year held extra special significance: 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Mardi Gras, after beginning in 1978 as a protest march against laws criminalizing homosexuality and gay sex, as well as commemorating the famous Stonewall riots in New York that culminated in arrests and police violence against participants. As well, it was the first Mardi Gras after Australia’s federal government legalized marriage equality late last year.
More than 300,000 spectators lined the streets to watch 200 floats and 12,000 participants move down Oxford Street, traditionally the heart of the city’s gay community. Rainbow, glitter and sequins were the standard uniform, with costumes ranging from the skimpy and revealing to the large and ornate.
The Mardi Gras enjoyed wide political support this year, with Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, opposition party leader Bill Shorten and many other representatives marching proudly among the flotilla of large, colorful floats.
LGBTQ entertainers, celebrities, sports stars and media personalities appeared on various floats alongside regular participants, their friends and families, while Cher also marched before performing at a parade after-party. Some of the biggest cheers, however, were reserved for the “78ers”, those people who marched in the original 1978 demonstration and who have a special reserved place of honor in each parade.
Check out all the color, glitter and glam below.