Gogglebox Australia

Gogglebox talk: Mardi Gras turns 40!

This week the Goggleboxers watched an ABC telemovie on the violent beginnings of one of Australia’s greatest cultural events.

Every evening in Australia, more than four million of us choose to spend a night in front of the telly. Have you ever wondered what other people are watching? Or what they think about Mardi Gras, a colourful night of revelry, glitter, and good cheer, held on the first Saturday of the month every year?

In time for the 40th anniversary of Sydney's gay and lesbian Mardis Gras this weekend, ABC showed Riot - a film that reveals the story of how Mardi Gras, a highlight on the nation's cultural calendar, came to be.

Today, the parade is one of Australia's most famous events, drawing visitors to Sydney in the thousands. Each year, the event captures the imagination of Australia’s LGBTQI communities, and is a full-city take over for weeks on end, culminating in the vibrant Mardi Gras Parade: a colourful and dazzling night of pride, celebration, absolutely incredible floats, and all-important self-expression.

The first Mardi Gras, however, was a devastating, and sadly violent night. Held in winter in 1978, several hundred gays, lesbians, and their supporters gathered at Taylor Square and marched down Oxford Street towards Hyde Park.

The march was created as a show of harmony and support for the international Gay Solidarity Celebrations, an event that had grown up as a result of the Stonewall riots in New York. Sadly, marchers were met with unexpected police violence, and more than 50 men and women were arrested. 

It became one of Australia's most significant civil rights milestones both symbolically and legally. After the 1978 edition, NSW laws were amended to allow freer protests. 

The parade has met many other obstacles - like 'moral' crusader Reverand Fred Nile, who would pray for rain on parade day during the 80s. But in spite of the odds, the weather, the turbulence and the challenges, there has been a Mardi Gras every year since 1978.

In 2006, Conde Nast named the festival as one of the world's top costume parades, and PlanetOut named it as the greatest gay event in the world. And 2018 promises to be an absolutely thrilling event - with the parade celebrating '40 Years of Evolution'. 

Get in the Mardi Gras spirit with this delicious cocktail!

Watch Gogglebox Australia on Lifestyle, Wednesdays 7.30pm.

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