The flamboyance and frivolity of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is set to hit fever pitch this year, as the nation prepares to celebrate diversity at the parade’s 40th anniversary on Saturday March 3.
The theme is 40 Years of Evolution, which is timely considering the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia, and marking a real turnaround in public attitudes towards the LGBTIQ+ community since the first Sydney parade in 1978.
With so many reasons to party, Mardi Gras’s CEO Terese Casu says the 2018 festivities will be the biggest we’ve ever seen. That’s why it’s so important that all revellers have fun, yet celebrate safely.
So, here are five tips to help you prepare for a safe and fabulous 2018 Mardi Gras experience.
1. Start planning
Mardi Gras’ CEO, Terese Casu, advises revellers to get organised and start planning their parade experience, ahead of time.
“Think about how and when you are going to get there and where you will meet friends,” says Casu.
“Also make sure you have nutritious food before you set out to attend the parade and stay hydrated throughout the night.”
2. Ask a volunteer for help
Casu says, “the one thing about the crowd at the Mardi Gras parade, is that it is a beautiful and loving crowd.”
However, if you do find yourself in the position where you feel unsafe, there are around 1300 volunteers stationed throughout the parade who can help you. There will also be security guards and medical teams on standby to assist anyone in need of medical care.
3. Be mindful of everyone around you – young and older
Secretary-treasurer of the non-profit group, 78ers – The First Mardi Gras, Robyn Kennedy, marched in the first Sydney parade in 1978.
“One of the reasons why the 40th anniversary is so important is because so many 78ers have made a real effort to get to the parade in Sydney and come together,” says ‘seventy-eighter’ Kennedy, who is also on the board of the Mardi Gras.
“That hasn’t happened for years because of distance or poor health.
“So everyone just needs to be mindful of the people they are with and others in the crowd – young and older. Be aware of your surroundings.”
4. Support your friends
Although Mardi Gras is a time of celebration, for some people who have experienced negativity about their sexuality, it can also be a time of mental stress. Kennedy encourages members of the LGBTIQ+ community to always support their friends.
“My advice to everyone this Mardi Gras is to take care of each other – which is not that different to what we did 40 years ago in a way,” says Kennedy.
“So look out for your neighbour and make sure they are in good physical and mental health.”
5. Share the love
Medibank -- proud partner for the third year running -- is celebrating the 2018 Festival through the power of a kiss, and at the Parade will roll out its famous interactive kiss cam. Whether it’s a kiss shared between lovers, a mother and child or new friends, Medibank is encouraging all to share the love of Mardi Gras by puckering up, as things can be #BetterwithaKiss.
Medibank has health cover for everyone, visit medibank.com.au/health-insurance/mardi-gras and if you or someone you know is in need of support, please visit Twenty10 online, call Qlife on 1800 184 527 or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.