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“You could hear them in Darlinghurst police station being beaten up and crying out from pain. The night had gone from nerve-wracking to exhilarating to traumatic all in the space of a few hours. The police attack made us more determined to run Mardi Gras the next year.”
Over the months that followed, more protests and arrests took place - and the actions of the authorities came to be seen as heavy handed. By April 1979 the Parliament of New South Wales repealed the NSW Summary Offences Act legislation that had allowed the arrests to be made. As such that first Mardi Gras march was a major civil rights milestone beyond the gay community. Up to 3,000 people marched in an incident-free parade in 1979.
In 1980 a key new element was introduced – the post-parade party. The face of the modern Mardi Gras we know today was taking shape.
The event began to enjoy extensive media coverage from the mid-80s onwards and the crowds continued to swell, from 200,000 in 1989 to over 500,000 in 1993. Large numbers of interstate and international travellers had started flying in for the event as well, generating an estimated $38 million for the NSW economy.
Throughout the late ‘90s and early part of this century, Mardi Gras continued to grow in tourist and spectator numbers along with an increase in the quality of the events and the scope of the festival. Its themes each year represent the issues of the day and encourage marginalised groups to join a larger family of supporters.
Today, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of Australia’s most famous and well-loved events, bringing thousands of visitors to Sydney to join in the celebrations. It captures the imagination of Australia’s LGBTQI and mainstream communities, taking over the city for weeks on end, culminating in the world-famous Parade: a colourful and dazzling night of pride, celebration and self-expression.
|1978||Saturday 24 June||marking 'International Gay Solidarity Day'|
|1979||Saturday 30 June||Power in the Darkness|
|1980||Saturday 28 June||Outrageous Gay Mardi Gras - Festive Ball|
|1981||Saturday 21 March (postponed from 21 Feb due to torrential rain)||We are the People our Parents Warned us Against|
|1982||Saturday 27 February||On Our Way To Freedom|
|1983||Saturday 26 February||Our Lives/Our Selves|
|1984||Saturday 25 February||We’ll Dance If We Want To!|
|1985||Saturday 23 February||Fight for our Lives|
|1986||Saturday 22 February||(no theme)|
|1987||Saturday 21 February||(no theme)|
|1988||Saturday 27 February||Celebrating a Safe Sex Summer|
|1989||Saturday 18 February||(no theme)|
|1990||Saturday 17 February||(no theme)|
|1991||Saturday 16 February||(no theme)|
|1992||Saturday 29 February||(no theme)|
|1993||Saturday 27 February||(no theme)|
|1994||Saturday 5 March||We Are Family|
|1995||Saturday 4 March||Fairy Tales & Lesbian Legends|
|1996||Saturday 2 March||(no theme)|
|1997||Saturday 1 March||(no theme)|
|1998||Saturday 28 February||20 Years of (R)evolution|
|1999||Saturday 21 February||Equality in Diversity | Celebrate the Future|
|2000||Saturday 4 March||2000gether|
|2001||Saturday 3 March||Out There, Everywhere|
|2002||Saturday 2 March||Happy Mardi Gras!|
|2003||Saturday 1 March||25 Years of Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual and Queer Culture|
|2004||Saturday 6 March||Metamorphosis|
|2005||Saturday 5 March||Our Freedom, Your Freedom|
|2006||Saturday 4 March||Dance · Love · Radiate|
|2007||Saturday 3 March||Objects of Love|
|2008||Saturday 1 March||Brave New Worlds|
|2009||Saturday 7 March||Nations United|
|2010||Saturday 27 February||History of the World|
|2011||Saturday 5 March||Say Something|
|2012||Saturday 3 March||Infinite Love|
|2013||Saturday 2 March||Generations of Love|
|2014||Saturday 1 March||Kaleidoscope|
|2015||Saturday 7 March||Passion|
|2016||Saturday 6 March||Momentum|
|2017||Saturday 4 March||Creating Equality|
|2018||Saturday 3 March||40 Years of Evolution|
|2019||Saturday 2 March||Fearless|
|2020||Saturday 29 February||What Matters|
|2021||Saturday 6 March||Rise|
|2022||Saturday 5 March||Theme to be announced|
|2023||Saturday 25 February||WORLD PRIDE 2023 - Gather, Dream, Amplify|
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, who are the traditional owners of the land on which our celebrations are held on.
We pay our respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to other First Nations peoples.
Always was, always will be Aboriginal Land.