To think that this time last year, I was gearing up to cover myself in latex and share sweat with over 200 people at a Mardi Gras party, COVID-19 a mere blip in my mind. This year is clearly looking rather different. The 2021 Sydney Mardi Gras parade, which iconically takes place on Oxford Street - the initial site of the 1978 LGBTQI+ liberation march - has been moved to none other than the Sydney Cricket Ground, bolstered by corporate involvement, and become ticketed (which is problematic considering the circumstances of many people's current finances given the pandemic, and limits accessibility to an event rooted in liberation). If, like many, you're looking to celebrate queer Christmas without hauling yourself to the cricket grounds this year, we're covering some alternative events to get you in the spirit. While I'm left trying to track down whoever thought it was a good idea to attempt to herd LGBTQI+ folks to a cricket ground, read through our selects, below.
As many venues and events have limited capacity this year, please consider that if you are an ally looking to join the celebrations, you're not taking up places that could otherwise be occupied by LGBTQI+ folks who are using this opportunity to find community and safety.
As a response to the corporate rainbow-washing that has taken place at the Mardi Gras parade over the past years, the Mardi Gras March 2021 has been organised to recognise that Pride began as a protest at Stonewall, and the 78 Mardi Gras that commemorated it. This will be a Mardi Gras event with "No Cops, No Corporations, No Conservatives! Pride without compromise, for and by the community - a free-to-attend, real Mardi Gras for the liberation of everyone", and will protest against #KillTheBill, #NoPrideInDetention, #BlackLivesMatter, #DecrimSexWork and #LegaliseAllDrugsNow. The rally will begin at 2pm at Taylor Square in Darlinghurst.
Celebrated Sydney fashion photographer, Waded, captures authentic and polished portraits of tattooed bodies that tell unique stories through their body art. Woven through the photographic exhibition will include historical images and the background of LGBTQI+ tattooed symbols used over last century to convey political messages or to reveal one's identity. The LGBTQI+ community are invited to contribute to the Exhibition through an interactive story wall of images and stories about their first tattoo. The exhibition is open Friday 19 February - Sunday 7 March at the Cell Block Theatre and is Free to enter.
Queerstories is a series of spoken stories that celebrates the culture and creativity of the LGBTQI+ community one true story at a time, delving deeper into community and identity, reflecting on our histories, and contending with the potential of our futures. Queerstories takes place on March 13 at Giant Dwarf.
LGBTQI+ party institution Heaps Gay will be hosting an official live viewing at Oxford Tavern in the Inner West alongside party with some of the friends of the house to help fill the Mardi Gras sized hole in our hearts.
An indoor/outdoor seated Soireé offering food, wine and loads of performances. Held at Cafe Fredas on Oxford Street, the spiritual home of the Parade.
Celebrate Mardi Gras weekend from Melbourne at Poof Doof, one of the largest LGBTQI+ parties in the country.
If you are not in Sydney and would still like to join in on the celebrations, Sydney Mardi Gras has teamed up with a number of local venues that are hosting viewing parties in the spirit of celebrating, which can be found at their website.