Until Saturday 27th February, the closest thing to attending a Mardi Gras parade was seeing my maths teacher on the news - wearing a fluro yellow bow tie, fluro pink tutu and a glittering wand. Not to mention he was prancing along Oxford Street like a happy lamb.
While that image has now been burnt into my retina, I was still curious to see how a Mardi Gras parade unfolded. As my friends and I were walking along the streets on Sydney, we saw a plethora of costumes and the energy was intoxicating.
By the time my friends arrived at Oxford Street at five o'clock, the street had been transformed into a colourful catwalk, with several parade participants dancing around with the trademark flag. Not to mention, the street was crowded. As my friend puts it correctly, "I felt like a human sausage".
I had to stand at the crowd for three hours before the parade began. After that, the parade started off with the 200 'Dykes on Bikes' riding up on Oxford Street. As the parade continued, I was expecting to see some witty visual commentary on their political opponents featuring in the floats. Instead, I saw advertisements for State Transit, Legal Aid and a few other corporate sponsors. I felt like the Sydney Mardi Gras was more interested in corporate relationships, then community values and local activism.
While there were a few costumes that stood out, like the Thai representative group which showed off their exquisite cultural costume - it saddens me that the parade now focuses on profit. Sometimes, I feel like they've forgotten the days where a parade couldn't go a day without a protest.
For those who attended the Mardi Gras this year - what did you think of this year's events? Am I being naive or have the Mardi Gras have gone too corporate?
*Photos courtesy of Kym Huynh