I fucking love this time of year – Mardi Gras time! I love everything about Mardi Gras – Fair Day (which I couldn’t attend this year due to a bout of food poisoning, the mild weight loss was so not worth it), the Mardi Gras Film Festival (the guys art Queer Screen rule!), the theatre shows, the parties and, of course, the Parade.
This will actually be my last Mardi Gras for a few years as I’m leaving Sydney and moving to London. So what better time to look back on my first Mardi Gras and re-live all the great Mardi Gras memories I’ve had since?
I’m fortunate enough to have a fellow gay for a brother (love that betch’s face off!) So when I was 19 or 20 he and his posse took me to experience the Parade for the first time. I actually can’t describe the overwhelming feeling of pride that overcame me as we made our way up Oxford Street. To see all of those hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets in support of equal rights, acceptance and love was insane. The excitement in the air was electric. For a young kid from Newcastle who wasn’t out to his parents and family, I was overcome with a sense of belonging and in that moment I knew: there’s nothing wrong with you.
As Magda said recently, “there’s nothing wrong with being gay… if there was a pill to cure it, I wouldn’t take it”
After shuffling, ducking and diving through the crowds for over an hour, we found ourselves standing out the front of the Columbian taking swigs out of a bottle of $20 vodka and searching for a spare milk crate to stand on. (Hey – you can take the boy out of Newcastle, but you can’t take the Newcastle out of the boy!)
The Parade was so much more than I had anticipated – colourful, wild and sexy – but the one thing from that night that I will always remember is this: a little boy (about three or four years old) was dancing around to the music holding the gay flag and waving it above his head. His (straight) parents were watching on and encouraging him as he danced about. It occurred to me that this kid probably had no idea what he was there for or what it all meant, however his parents were attending the Parade to show their support and so would likely pass on their open mindedness, acceptance and support of gay rights as part of his upbringing. After all, isn’t that what Mardi Gras is all about?
All the warm and fuzzies aside, as soon as the Parade was dying down we ran into Stonewall and proceeded to consume as much alcohol as possible. Pretty soon we were totally trolleyed, getting dangerous on the d-floor and kissing every cute boy that ventured into our field of gravity.
I remember the first time I went to the Mardi Gras Party – I was dancing in the RHI as the Freemasons took us to places we’ve never been before. I was surrounded by some of the hottest, shirtless men I’ve ever seen. Packed in like sweaty sardines, you could hardly move, flesh on flesh. But I didn’t care. That is until the condensation built up so much that the RHI turned into the steam room at Bodyline and sweat started to drip from the ceiling…
Part of the Mardi Gras experience used to be going to Sleaze Ball on October long weekend. The one thing I remember from my first Sleaze Ball was dancing with my friends, eyeing off some hot stud when a crippled leather daddy in a wheel chair rolled up to a dude with arseless chaps and began to rim him in the middle of the dance floor. Not something you see everyday, but hey, good on him. These are my people!
I loved Sleaze Ball – so dirty and sexy. But onwards and upwards and it was a sinking ship, not making enough money so it will remain just that: memories.
I know there’s a tonne of politics that goes along with Mardi Gras and every queen has an opinion (mostly negative about how the committee, board and staff run the show), but you know what? Fuck that. Every year we all band together, have a fucking awesome time and show the world how fucking fabulous we are!
Just think what that means to every young gay, lesbian, bisexual, budding drag queen or transgender kid in the crowd this year. It means the world. There’s nothing wrong with you and this is where you belong.
Happy fucking Mardi Gras!