Mardi Gras celebrates its founders in Sydney
From: AAP March 03, 2013 12:31AMFIREWORKS, glittering transvestites and a sprinkling of popstars lit up Sydney's Mardi Gras but the loudest cheers were saved for the festival's founding cast.
Ten thousand performers took part in the gay community's night of nights, with celebrations focusing on the parade's 35-year history.
The lead float at this year's “Generations of Love” parade was dedicated to the “78ers” including media personality Julie McCrossin and the “godfather of Mardi Gras” Ron Austin.
Thirty five years ago, the pair were part of a small group who took to the streets of Sydney to highlight discrimination against gay people.
Despite rain and gusty winds in Sydney, thousands of onlookers cheered as the performers danced, marched and cartwheeled down Oxford Street to commemorate the years of struggle for gay acceptance.
Gay members of Australia's defence force (ADF) marched in their uniforms for the first time and squadron leader Vince Chong from the Royal Australian Air Force was thrilled to be part of the event.
“It's absolutely exhilarating. This is about us being proud of the uniform, and it allows us to show how proud we are of the ADF,” he said.
He said the decision to allow members to march, reflected the ADF's policy to encourage more workplace inclusion.
“It shows the priority that's been placed on diversion and inclusion in the Australian Defence Force. This is just the start of many things to come under the pathway to change. We will see more and more about generating a culture of inclusion.”Politicians were also a part of the festivities with Sydney Mayor Clover Moore, turning out with a team of supporters along with Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich.
The ALP and the Greens were also represented while the Liberal Party also had their spot in the parade, with their float led by the opposition leader Tony Abbott's gay sister, Christine Foster.
Ms Forster said she hoped she could “one day” convince her brother to march in the parade despite the fact that he led the Coalition in a bloc “no” vote in two separate bills seeking to amend the marriage act to include same sex marriage in 2012.
“I would like to get him up Oxford Street and into Taylor Square at the head of the Mardi Gras, that would be fantastic,” she said.
Ms Foster paid tribute to the 78ers, saying the festival had now changed to become a celebration of community and diversity rather than a protest.
A number of performers dressing like maverick Queensland MP Bob Katter also took part in the parade, while singer Paulini performed atop the City of Sydney's official float.
Oxford Street had a heavy police presence but there had been no early reports of serious incidents.http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/mardi-gras-celebrates-its-founders-in-sydney/story-e6frg6nf-1226589176589