Mardi Gras with Love From Uturn
This year is the 40th year of Sydney Mardi Gras!
Mardi Gras is known largely for the fabulous fashion. We reference local and international queer icons and fashion trends such as feathered showgirl-cabaret meets carnival of Brazil looks, The voguing balls and club kids of 90s NYC with icons like Willie Ninja, Kia Labeija. Amanda Lepore, Leigh Bowery
40 years of Passion Pride and Protest is a great way for fashion enthusiasts to engage with the fashion and history of Sydney’s Mardi Gras. It’s held at the Museum of Love and Protest and runs through until its last day on March 4th.
Mardi Gras 101
40 years ago homosexuality was not only heavily stigmatised, it was a crime here in Australia. Mardi Gras originated in 1978 as a political demonstration organised by gay and queer activists advocating for gay rights. It was a defiant stand in claiming visibility for the LGBTQI community and the discrimination against them. It became a violent protest with the interference of police that saw 53 people arrested and even more beaten.
Now cut to Sydney 2018
The streets are lined with rainbow pride flags as Sydney gears up for a long list of fashionable festivities. There have been parties, art shows, the Sydney queer film festival, and this weekend the gigantic parade. If you look around people are flocking in from all over the country to celebrate, and even internationally to show support for and show their pride in being gay, queer and still here.
For some, it’s of economic benefit to join the festivities of Mardi Gras. You can see the banks iridescent Gaytm’s lining Oxford Street & King Street. The reality of Mardi Gras today is that it brings in around an annual 30 million dollars locally. Though the reality is that many businesses and people participate without much of a contribution to gay and queer organisations and communities, there is something interesting and powerful about how something that started as such a radicalised and violent protest, has become such a huge and widely accepted celebration within mainstream Australia. Without the devotion, courage and hard work of many gay and queer individuals who risked everything, we would not be where we are today as a city or a nation.
Mardi gras is a celebration, but within the floats, the parties, the glitter and the sequins, are individuals and communities that still need advocacy, solidarity and support. The best way to celebrate Mardi Gras after the festivities is to learn more about the gay and queer communities around you, and how you can better understand and support their needs. Supporting gay and queer organisations, artists and businesses is a great way to enjoy Mardi Gras season after you’ve paraded your epic looks and thrown your fair share of glitter bombs.
We have compiled a list of some must know local queer icon’s and events for you to learn about, support, drool over and celebrate!
Stelly G and Miss Blanks
Two amazing queer musicians you need to know Stelly G and Miss Blanks dishing out must-see performances with USA musician Le1f March 3rd at Oxford Art Factory. More event information and tickets here.
Creative Director of this years Mardi Gras extravaganza Sissy Bal, as well as this year’s Sle community fundraiser, Can I Live Ball, Bhenji is a queer performer/dancer/artist and so much more based here in Sydney. Her next otherworldly performance is dancing at the Keir Choreographic Award 2018 15th- 17th March at Carriageworks. Do not sleep on this queer icon she’s someone you want to support and see.
Black Divaz Exhibition
Held at iconic queer venue The Bearded Tit, Miss First Nations contestants and Drag Territory performed live as well as a premiere screening of the film BLACK DIVAZ as part of QueerScreen Mardi Gras 2018. You can still catch it in Sydney airing on NITV March 1 and SBS March 4 as well as the Black Divaz exhibition at The Bearded Tit goes until March 3rd and includes hand-sewn textiles of Pashion Couture and intimate portraits by Joseph Mayers.
Justin Shoulder and Matthew Stegh
Justin Shoulder is a performance artist and event and nightlife organiser that creates immersive experiences and performances drawing from queer ancestral mythologies. Matthew Stegh is an iconic costumier and event and nightlife organiser and anything these two create separately or together is a powerhouse of weird and wonderful. These two are key figures along with KellI Jean Drinkwater in organising annual underground Mardi Gras event Monsta Gras which is held at the iconic community run Sydney venue, the Red Rattler on March 3rd. Catch the Monsta Gras documentary on ABC Iview now!
Regrette is perhaps the freakiest and elusive queer activist, academic, performer, costumier and Dj. Her looks and Dj sets are known internationally and she is a strong local Sydney queer artistic force that you need to book at your next event – she will take you to places you didn’t know existed.
Written with love by Lexi Laphor – check her out on insta @femmeasfuck (We LOVE you Lexi)