March 3, 2018 was filled with rainbows, glittery sweat, and millions of people coming together to celebrate love and equality. On this day, Sydney, Australia was the place to be! Australia represents and houses a diverse group of individuals. One of these groups is the LGBTQI community. Every year since 1978 it’s been a tradition that Sydney hosts an annual Mardi Gras Pride Parade. However, 2018 was a year like no other because, apart from being the 40th anniversary of the parade, it was also the first parade since the legalization of gay marriage in Australia. As a spectator, you can only imagine the excitement and positive energy that roamed this year’s parade. I witnessed both a marriage and a plethora of creative outfits as well as meeting an abundance of genuinely free people. Attending the parade was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I wasn’t just a spectator, I was a part of the show!
I had only been in Australia a little less than two weeks when I saw an ad to be a dancer in the parade. When I applied, I was initially waitlisted, and this bummed me out a bit. However, I was determined to make it to Mardis Gras one way or another, even if that meant watching from the sidelines. On the Thursday before the parade, I received an email mentioning a spot had opened up to be a dancer for one of the floats. I immediately jumped on the opportunity and took the next bus to a craft store. I made my outfit and learned an entire dance in under 24 hours.
Being a part of the show allowed me to see the hard work and effort that goes on behind the scenes of the actual parade. While most spectators were scattered throughout the parade trying to find a good view, I was able to roam around and check out all of the floats before they went off. Every float was filled with lively people who wanted nothing more than to dance and sing. I paraded with the Shellharbour Shag-Harders "Breaking the Ice," a group of young free-spirited LBGTQI people from Shellharbour-Wollongong regions. Entering the parade, I knew absolutely nobody, but throughout the night I met and made friends with amazing individuals.
Moral of the story: take a risk, even if it means creating an outfit last minute, learning a dance or dancing in a parade for two miles dripping in glitter. This has been the highlight of my adventures in the land down under so far, and I was happy to be a part of making history.