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Sydney Cricket Ground hosts safe and spectacular Mardi Gras event

Sydney Cricket Ground hosts safe and spectacular Mardi Gras event
March 7, 2021

The Sydney Cricket Ground last night hosted a safe and successful Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in a dazzling display of self-expression. 

The Parade, having temporarily relocated from Sydney’s Oxford Street to the COVIDSafe venue at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), was a stadium spectacular featuring a line-up of performances from the likes of electronic duo Electric Fields, ARIA Award-winning art-pop songwriter Montaigne, and indie pop darling G Flip, presented by TikTok. UK powerhouse Rita Ora closed the festivities with an epic headline performance of her hit tracks “Let Me Love You”, “Bang Bang”, “BIG”, and “Anywhere”.

The SCG saw a stadium crowd of 36,000 spectators cheer as 5,000 marchers, from over 120 parade entries, marched onto the field in a vibrant display of diversity and unity. Parade partner SBS broadcast the event live to hundreds of thousands of homes and viewing parties across the country.

From Broken Hill to Cairns, 30 venues across Australia were awarded grants to hold official parade viewing parties. Established by Mardi Gras and Facebook Australia, the initiative was designed to extend the reach of Mardi Gras across the country and support the hospitality and arts sector hit hard by the impact of COVID-19.

The theme for the 2021 Parade was RISE, a call to action that now is the time to rise again through love, compassion, respect and understanding. A poignant message following the challenge and hardship of 2020, Parade entries incorporated the theme into their final concepts.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Chief Executive Albert Kruger noted “this year’s Mardi Gras was a once in a lifetime experience. With a reworked COVIDSafe format, our iconic Parade definitely looked different to how it has in the past, but even in this new setup, Mardi Gras continues to be celebration of who we are and what we’ve achieved, as well as a moment for us to advocate for the change we need to see in the future.

“Among the colourful costumes and beating music, the spirit of protest was as strong as it ever has been. Because, while Australia has made so many strides since 1978, we haven’t achieved equality.

“Today, faith-based service providers, including schools, can lawfully turn us away, even when they receive public funding to deliver their essential services. Trans Australians are vilified, struggle to access critical healthcare and face insurmountable hurdles to updating their ID documents to reflect who they are.

“These are just some of the issues that remain unaddressed in our society. Working together, we have an opportunity to change things. The Parade was just one moment where we could come together to rise for equality, but our work doesn’t start and end with the Parade.”

Kruger added “the Parade has gone ahead every year since 1978, no matter what, so we’re very happy we could continue to honour this commitment and deliver a safe event for our community during these times. 

“We look forward to returning to our home on Oxford Street as soon as we can, but if the last 12 months has taught us anything it’s that our community are resilient. We have faced many challenges throughout history and we have always found a way to celebrate, to express ourselves and have our voices heard. Last night was proof of this.”

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