Hundreds of thousands of people packed the streets of Sydney’s gay village this weekend to watch the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The now famous parade has been going for 37 years.

The theme for this year’s event was tackling homophobia in sport – with gay and lesbian sports teams in the parade and one float carrying prominent sports men and women.

“Mardi Gras is a time of year where everyone has a chance to express themselves without fear of persecution. It’s also a chance to be super creative and make amazing costumes. And it’s the only time of the year that you can walk through the city half naked and covered head to toe in paint and glitter.”

Nearly 150 marching groups and floats participated in this year’s parade, including members of Australia’s armed forces, who for the first time ever they were lead by the most senior enlisted military figures. Military personnel have only been able to participate openly in the parade since 2008, and it was only this year that they have been allowed to march in uniform.

The parade always begins with the traditional roar of the Dykes on Bikes, and this year was no different  – well one little inclusion – the cast of hit web series Starting From Now rod shotgun.

They were followed by 42 Boys on Bikes and by a visiting contingent from Victorian LGBTI biker group the Melbourne Motorcycle Tourers.

Highlights included, a large contingent of LGBTI sporting groups, followed by a float from the ANZ bank – this year’s Principle Partner with the festival. 

The ‘78ers – veterans of the first ever Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 1978 (which descended into a police riot after officers attacked the marchers). A large group of indigenous Australians, with a bus carrying respected members of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

People With Disability Australia (a crowd favorite) travelled on a float featuring a pair of giant lips – sending the message that people should be free to love without discrimination regardless of their ability.

Another highlight of the parade were marchers from Australian Marriage Equality, with 100 marchers wearing Passion t-shirts dancing to the tune of Bruno Mar’s song ‘Marry You.’  

One of the largest corporate entries in the parade was the Google entry – with over a thousand people, including Australia’s first ever Eurovision entry Guy Sebastian, Megan Washington and band The Jezabels, marching to raise awareness for LGBTI youth charity Twenty10.

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