History of First Peoples entries in the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

Warimi! Welcome to the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entries in the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade. WARNING: This site contains photographs of a community's history that spans 40 years. Some photographs contain images of deceased loved ones, family and friends who are sorely missed. We honour their memory in every day of our lives.

;xNLx;This is a community's site of community-owned and shared, stories and history - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, sistergirl, brotherboy, inter-sexed and queer community from Nations wide, their partners and their families.;xNLx;;xNLx;This timeline will always be 'under construction' and dependent on community input. To respond to the timeline and provide your valued feedback, more stories, more knowledge and photographs, please join and post to the facebook public group for this site, by clicking on this link:;xNLx;;xNLx;[Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mardi Gras](https://www.facebook.com/groups/1507173312924165/);xNLx;;xNLx;To view in 3D, click on the 3D icon bottom left of screen. It looks mad in 3D! Your tools for viewing are bottom right of screen.;xNLx;;xNLx;Project initiation, curation and words, Tim Bishop.;xNLx;

1974-04-16 14:50:38

65+000 years > The 70's

The affirmative actions of the 1960s social movements in America (Black Power, anti-Vietnam War and worldwide Women's Liberation) inspired the radicalisation of the Gay Solidarity Movement that arrived in Sydney early in the 1970s.

1978-06-24 00:00:00

The '78ers

In June of 1978, a night-time celebration followed a morning protest march in the city and an afternoon's rally at Paddington Town Hall, as Sydney’s contribution to international Gay Solidarity celebrations. Organised by the Sydney Gay Solidarity Group, the evening culminated in a festive procession down Oxford Street to Hyde Park, leaving from Taylor Square at 11pm. The 1500 revellers were later met with unexpected police violence. Fifty-three people were arrested. Aboriginal women, Chris Burke (dec) and Annie Pratten were there in solidarity.

1979-06-30 00:00:00

The Gay Parade Has Begun

The following year, 1979, up to 3,000 people marched again, in an incident-free, evening parade of Gay Solidarity. The event was now locked in as one heart-pumping night of love every year that hasn't skipped a beat since.

1980-01-01 00:00:00

The Spontaneous 1980s

There are many anecdotal reports from blackfellas of spontaneous participation in the parade during the 1980s, when you could just jump on in and join them.

1981-03-07 00:00:00

Parade moves to Summer

In 1980 the decision was made to move the 1981 parade forward to summer and to name the parade, Sydney Gay Mardi Gras.

1982-01-01 00:00:00

The Aboriginal flag's first appearance

In 1982, Narrandera man, Roger McKay, marched alone in the parade wearing the Aboriginal flag. This significant moment is widely acknowledged as the first time the Aboriginal flag appeared in the parade.

1988-01-01 00:00:00

Captain Cook Malcolm Cole

The first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander float entered in the Mardi Gras parade was in the year of Australia's Bicentenary celebrations, 1988. Only one month prior to this parade 40,000 people protested in Sydney against the celebrations - the largest march in Australia since the Vietnam moratorium.

1988-06-05 00:00:00

Puttin' the L into Mardi Gras

At an Extraordinary General Meeting in 1988, post the parade, the Board of Sydney Gay Mardi Gras elected to re-name the event, 'Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras'.

1992-03-07 00:00:00

Koorie Wirguls

Koorie Wirguls was an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lesbian support group during the early 1990s.

1993-03-06 00:00:00

Bangarra

Birthed in 1989, Bangarra Dance Theatre is proudly one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies, widely acclaimed nationally and around the world. And they entered a float in the 1993 parade - a vibrant show on a truck of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and support for community.

1995-03-04 00:00:00

Everyone's Business

An eight tonne, flat tray-truck, with lights and sound, depicting the figure of a skeletal spirit, that carried as many blackfellas on it as it could.

1995-12-31 00:43:52

Indigenous or What?

Closely following the 1995 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community entry, was the black and indigenous community group from the Illawarra, INDIGENOUS or WHAT?

1996-03-02 20:21:45

Matthew's Flag

The entry was a very large and very spectacular, shiny lame’ Aboriginal flag on wheels, pulled along the parade route like a Trojan Horse.

1998-03-07 00:00:00

Queers for Reconciliation

“Queers for Reconciliation was formed in response to the federal Government’s Wik legislation. It was hoped that the publicity accorded the parade could convey the message about the importance of Reconciliation Australia-wide.” (Q4R, 1998)

1999-01-01 00:00:00

B+W+Pink - The Kurrea

After the success of their participation in the parade the year before, the mob from Moree contacted Mardi Gras again in 1999, with the offer of a very special Rainbow Serpent.

2000-01-01 00:00:00

Our Queen, Our Country

A very significant year and a very memorable entry, with quite a story to tell. All eyes were on Sydney as hosts of the 2000 Summer Olympics.

2000-02-01 00:00:00

Hunter Valley Koori Community

We know you were there and we'd love to hear your story. Please get in touch and send us some pics!

2000-03-01 00:00:00

Black+White+Pink - Corroboree 2000

A very large walking group of over 400 people of all backgrounds, sexualities and gender identities, marched to demonstrate community commitment to Reconciliation.

2001-01-01 22:58:54

Coz I'm Free

The entry was a very proud nod to Cathy Freeman’s gold medal win at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and to the significance of her achievement.

2001-03-01 23:51:51

Sweeties for a Treaty

The walking entry was accompanied by high-profile Aboriginal leader, Geoff Clarke, and Aboriginal activist Jack Beetson, to promote reconciliation between Aborigines and other Australians.

2002-01-01 23:52:07

TREATY YEAH!

Not sure who were the organising group of this entry as there is some recollective confusion about it. But it definitely happened! Predominantly a parade entry of non-indigenous LGBTIQ support for indigenous Australians, the indigenous mob looking to join the parade this year, marched with this group in the united call for TREATY!

2003-01-01 21:02:39

Welcome to Country

A 'Welcome to Country' procession was first invited into the parade by New Mardi Gras in 2003. A mob with flags walked ahead of the parade proper, in the foreplay (pre-parade) section of the parade, to the welcoming cheers of the enthusiastic crowd.

2005-01-01 21:02:39

Welcome to Country

The year that an Aboriginal group lead the parade - for the very first time.

2006-01-01 00:00:00

Welcome to Country

Following on from the previous year, the Welcome to Country retained its position at the head of the parade.

2006-01-01 06:14:44

Captain Crook and The Endeavour Gay

Another special moment in our history of participation, this was the year we top and tailed the Mardi Gras Parade.

2007-01-01 00:00:00

Right Here Right Now

This year didn't see a 'Welcome to Country' at the front of the parade. Instead, the mob lead the ACON section of the parade, promoting the Aboriginal Project at ACON.

2008-01-01 00:00:00

Blackbooty - One Love

The Black Booty float was a flat tray truck, with a mounted lighting rig and sound that carried eight choreographed performers, representing eight different drag identities.

2009-01-01 00:00:00

First Australians - House of Blackstar

This was the year the mob first marched under the banner of 'First Australians'.

2010-01-01 13:16:15

FIRST AUSTRALIANS - 40,000 Years of Pride

A walking group in their rightful place at the head of the parade. Everything well organised - A shiny blue truck, flags, banners, printed t-shirts and multi-coloured torches. But as can happen, things went a little array on the night.

2011-01-01 00:00:00

FIRST AUSTRALIANS - Survivor

An award-winning walking group at the front of the parade. Lots of flags, colour and movement, a ute with lights and sound and Uncle Max on the back with a fire bucket.

2012-01-01 12:00:23

FIRST AUSTRALIANS - Tru Love Tru

The Love Heart was the featured icon of this year's entry. It rained a little in the afternoon but that only brought out even more decoration - multi-coloured umbrellas!

2013-01-01 12:00:23

FIRST AUSTRALIANS - Generations of Love

The walking group entry at the 'front of the parade' took inspiration from the fabulous 1960s look of the hit 2012 Australian movie, ‘The Sapphires’.

2014-01-01 12:00:23

FIRST AUSTRALIANS - Culture, Love, Unity, Diversity, Respect

The 'first in parade' entry was a creative mix of the traditional and the contemporary, led by Destiny Haz Arrived in her now-famous Rainbow Serpent-inspired, body-painted creation.

2015-01-01 12:00:23

FIRST AUSTRALIANS - Freedom is our Passion

The First Australians 'head of parade' entry for 2015, marked and celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Freedom Ride with a ride of its own, on a big red bus.

2016-01-01 00:00:00

FIRST NATIONS - 2Deadly Together

In pride of place at the front of the parade, now referred to by the organisers as the ‘protocol’ section, our community dazzled in our fourty-minute walk of fame, proving we are ‘2Deadly 2Gether’.

2017-01-01 03:23:34

FIRST NATIONS - Step by Step

Responding to the 2017 Mardi Gras theme of Creating Equality, the First Nations leading parade entry, Step by Step, highlighted the journey and the distance still to travel towards achieving equality for all First Peoples of this country in all areas, politically and socially.

2017-07-27 22:57:16

NORTHERN TERRITORY STARS

In their third year of entry in the parade, ‘The Northern Territory Stars’ got a lot of well-deserved media attention and a wildly enthusiastic response from the crowd. Creatively themed to represent the uniqueness on offer in the Northern Territory, as diverse as the NT night sky, the entry was led this year by 30 Tiwi Island sistergirls.

2017-12-26 04:50:00

Koori Gras @ 107

Inspired by this timeline, a public exhibition and community celebration of this proud history of First Peoples' entries in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade was produced for the Mardi Gras Festival 2017. A highlight of the festival - Koori Gras @ 107 Projects. Feb 21-26, 2017.

2019-09-13 16:03:36

Didjurigura, Thank you.

Big ups and heartfelt thanks to the many contributors and contributions of photographs, stories, archival records, history, gossip, yarns and memories that have so far crafted this timelined record of a community's history. Above all else, thank you to those who got out there in the first place and created this history of First Peoples presence in the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade. We are indebted to you and will forever acknowledge you.

History of First Peoples entries in the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

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