Sunday, March 06, 2005

Archival Rescue 13 ~ Syd local


Fun night on the main drag
By Erin O'Dwyer
March 6, 2005 The Sun-Herald

Feathers, frocks and foreign tourists were all out in force last night as the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade took to the streets of Sydney in a celebration of fun and freedom.

Tourists keen for a holiday snap with a real-life drag queen arrived early, even as many in the parade were still squeezing into their sequin dresses and stilettos.

Drag queen Gene Poole was among those taking it all in their hairy strides.

"This is what Sydney is all about," Poole said.

"They have so much courage," said Terry Hong, a visitor from South Korea. "It's getting better in South Korea but this is good, great."

About 500,000 people were expected to watch the 130 floats in all their gaudy glamour.

Charles and Camilla were in attendance, and more than a few Princess Marys. There were dozens of Dafydds from ABC TV's Little Britain, and of course perennial parade favourites Dykes on Bikes, Amnesty International and Sydney Leather Pride.

The parade's key message was "freedom".

Organisers compiled a dishonour roll of than 80 countries where homosexuality is illegal, and the parade's leading float used the opportunity to call for freedom in countries such as Afghanistan, India and Iran.

At the head of the parade were Vicki Harding and her partner Jackie, made famous after they featured with their daughter, Brenna, 8, in a Play School segment on ABC television last year.

"Mardi Gras is a time of year when gay and lesbian people are able to celebrate who we are," Harding said.

"There are so many people who are unhappy, confused or not open about their sexuality. This gives them a chance to connect with an understanding community."

Police on duty said there had been no disturbances. Thunderclouds also refused to rain on the parade.

Publicist Terry Stuart said: "Mardi Gras does something to people. Mardi Gras is here to stay. It's a celebration of life and freedom."


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