Defense Secretary Matt Keogh and Assistant Defense Secretary Matt Thistlethwaite also marched alongside the Army, Air Force and Navy to mark 10 years since members of the Australian Defense Force were allowed to participate in uniform.
“Historically, and sometimes even recently, not everyone in Defense has felt as valued as they should,” Keogh said.
In the early afternoon, a crowd began to form along Oxford Street, seeking the best vantage points.
Yessica Lozano and her friends secured their spot near Hyde Park, where the parade began, at 2 p.m.
“We all want to see them when they come out,” said Lozano.
They had tickets to after-party events, but weren’t worried about running out of steam. The festivities, Lozano said, would keep the group energized.
The parade had 280 floats organized by a mix of businesses, sports clubs, universities and political groups, as well as neighborhoods and friends.
“Pride is in the air,” said Sydney Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kreuger, adding that this year’s parade was expected to be the largest in the city.
This year’s march attracted a number of international floats. Chicago Pride, the British high commission, and a float from InterPride, the worldwide organization for Pride and Mardi Gras celebrations, were registered for the parade.
The Sydney Gaymers marched in 60 homemade costumes of the video game character Kirby while the Rainbow Families group rode inflatable unicorns.
Interstate groups the Northern Territory Northern Stars, Tasmania Pride and South Australia Mardi Gras came to Sydney, and parade regulars the Point Clare Families and the Shellharbour Shag-arders returned.
William Weller drove 250 miles from Tamworth last month to prepare for the regional town’s first appearance in the parade.
A handful of the 32 Tamworth Pride demonstrators have taken part on other floats before, but for the vast majority who live in Tamworth and surrounding towns, it was their first time.
“We’re trying to combat isolation in the Tamworth LGBT community,” said Weller, who organized the town’s float called Riding the Rainbow of Our Dreams to the Golden Guitar.
″But this is also WorldPride, and we are showing Tamworth and regional NSW to the world.″
“It’s very difficult for people in regional cities and communities to find their people,” Weller said.
″If it wasn’t for this group I probably wouldn’t have found much in Tamworth. People need connection.″
Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross delivered a similar message, despite coming from the center of town, when it returned to the parade for the first time since 2018 with a float titled “Absolutely Everyone! – A community without us and them”.
When the pandemic hit, the drop-in service — which provides meals, services and connection for those in need — switched to outreach, finding community members and helping them survive.
“For us to even think about celebrating pride — it wasn’t on the table,” said Tom Stevenson, a member of the service’s queer working group.
″We have an important message, not just for Sydney but also for Australia and the world, that by having an inclusive community we can live a life without loneliness,″ Stevenson said.
The Mardi Gras parade marks one half of Sydney WorldPride, a two-week festival held in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time since its inception in 2000.
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