Facebook & Instagram Australia have today announced a major partnership with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, unveiling the new national Pride campaign ‘Share Your #FearlessStories‘.

Launching to celebrate LGBTQ people and support their communities on Facebook and Instagram, the campaign includes exclusive new tools for Australians to express themselves and share the spirit of Sydney Mardi Gras.

Instagram will also make its first appearance at the Parade with a show-stopping float, in partnership with Facebook, showcasing how the platforms support Australians to connect with the moments, people, and local communities they care about.

Beginning today, Australians will have access to new features launched specifically for Sydney Mardi Gras, to help everyone express themselves, celebrate their communities, and ‘Share Your #FearlessStories’.

On Facebook, a new Coming Out Life Event is now available to share these significant and ongoing moments, find support, or celebrate your pride. And because everyone’s experience is different, it’s now easier to create custom Pride Life Events. From “Marched in my first Mardi Gras” to “Celebrated Australian Marriage Equality”, you can share a special moment to express yourself and inspire others with an animated rainbow flag and customizable titles.

On Instagram, 50 LGBTQ hashtags have transformed into rainbow hashtags throughout the Mardi Gras festival. From #SydneyMardiGras to #SydneyRainbowCrossing, whenever you use one of the hashtags in a feed post, it’ll turn a rainbow gradient, to encourage more people to discover and explore the photos and videos from people throughout the community. In Instagram Stories you’ll find the rainbow versions of the Location, Hashtag, and @Mention Stickers to turn any moment into a Mardi Gras celebration.

“LGBTQ Australians and their allies use Facebook and Instagram everyday to express themselves, share their experiences, make connections with like-minded people, fight for what they believe in, and create communities of support around their identity,” says Mia Garlick, Head of Policy, Facebook Australia. “With our #FearlessStories campaign and new partnership with Sydney Mardi Gras, we’re celebrating the queer communities on Facebook and Instagram, and giving them new tools and platforms to express themselves, inspire and support one another, and share the magic of Mardi Gras.”

“Social media platforms are wonderful tools for the LGBTQI community to connect and collaborate – they are especially important for our isolated and regional communities who face barriers to engaging with other people like them,” says Mardi Gras CEO Terese Casu. “We’re thrilled that Facebook and Instagram are creating new ways for LGBTQI to celebrate and view Sydney Mardi Gras, and are promoting diversity online. We can’t wait to see everyone talking about Mardi Gras Fearless theme this year!”

Facebook Australia is committed to bringing the magic of Mardi Gras to LGBTQI people and their allies around Australia and the world, as they partner with broadcast partner SBS on their Facebook Live broadcast of the Parade on Saturday 2 March. Streaming live from Oxford Street, the passion and pride of Mardi Gras will be available to watch via the SBS Australia Facebook Page, the Facebook Australia page, and to audiences worldwide on the LGBTQ@Facebook Page. A special broadcast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will air on SBS, Sunday 3 March at 8.35pm.

While Mardi Gras may be a time of celebration for some, we also recognize that many in the LGBTQ community struggle with issues of discrimination and inequality. This year, we are supporting youth mental health organization headspace Australia in launching their new wellbeing initiative for the LGBTQ community. The headspace initative ‘Not Always Glitter’ also launches across Facebook and Instagram, with resources available on their website www.headspace.org.au/notalwaysglitter around self-care, expressing your gender identity and sexuality, and where to get support.