Mardi Gras 2020: best outfits from parade
The Emerald City sparkled as thousands gathered in the Sydney CBD to celebrate the annual Mardi Gras festival and parade.
A surging rainbow river snaked its way through Oxford Street on Saturday evening, featuring kink masters, gay rugby players, firefighters and everyone in between.
NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer Sarah Paterson was one of about 80 RFS members letting their hair down after the punishing bushfire season. "I missed Christmas and New Years Eve because I was fighting fires, so this is like Christmas to me," she said.
"My uncle Malcolm - most people would know him as Michelle - was involved with the original '78ers so being at Mardi Gras has a personal connection for me as well." The Sydney Mardi Gras commemorates the '78ers, a group of protesters who were arrested and beaten by police when they tried to march as part of international gay celebrations back in 1978.
As per tradition, the "dykes on bikes" kicked off the parade on Saturday evening.
Martin Commons marched in this year's parade as a team member of the Melbourne Chargers, a gay and inclusive rugby club.
"We come because it's a great bit of a visibility and it's also just a great event to be a part of," he said.
"It has always been an amazing experience." Kink 4 Life organiser Thomas Seggie said members from the far-flung corners of Australia had travelled to Sydney for the parade.
"We are trying to promote awareness of kink and the censorship of kink," he said.
The Girl Guides were involved as a symbol of inclusivity.
"The Girl Guides are a part of this community. It's all about acceptance for us," NSW state program manager Alice Anderson said.
Of the 191 floats in the parade, several focused on issues such as climate change.
The firefighting heroes of Australia's bushfire crisis also turned out in force. James Cowin and George Stephan travelled from Brisbane for Mardi Gras "We came last year and it was amazing," said Mr Cowin.
"It's such a positive experience but it also highlights such important issues," Mr Stephan said.
Sisters Laura and Jacinda Purcell from Penrith have been coming to the festival for years but it's their first time marching.
"I've been coming to Mardi Gras every year since I was 14," says Laura. "We just love everything about it - that feeling of being accepted by everyone." Wade Young walked up Oxford Street with fellow members of the Cosplay Out Of The Closet group.
"This is the first time we've marched in the parade and we can't wait to see what sort of reception we get," he said.
Creative director Kat Hopper said this year's "What Matters" theme stokes debate around social justice, trans rights, sustainability, climate change and love. The parade drew a high-visibility police presence, with the riot squad assisted by members of the sniffer dog unit.
Grammy Award-winning UK singer Sam Smith headlined the afterparty alongside American pop performer Kesha and Brazilian drag queen Pablo Vittar.
The NSW Police concluded a high-visibility operation for the 42nd annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney's CBD.
The annual event saw more than 12,000 people take part in the parade as more than 190 floats marched along Liverpool, Oxford and Flinders streets in a colourful celebration of rainbow pride and diversity.
NSW Police also took part in the parade and celebrated 30 years since the creation of the now LGBTIQ Liaison Officer (GLLO) role, which was created in 1990 to support gender diverse police officers and the community.
During the parade, NSW Police participants saluted Operation Commander, Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell, who has been involved with the police operation for 11 years.
Assistant Commissioner Crandell thanked officers and praised the majority of revellers, who came together to safely celebrate "What Matters".
"Everyone came together to mark the 42nd anniversary of the parade in such a spectacular fashion," Assistant Commissioner Crandell said.
"I'm pleased to see our GLLOs and allys marching proudly - they do a lot of good work in the community and need to be celebrated.
"Police have come a long way in building relationships with the LGBTIQ community and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras event organisers.
"However, it was disappointing that we were requested to remove three people from the parade ground for unauthorised entry. Their removal was done to ensure the event could continue to proceed in a safe and peaceful manner."
The three people - two aged 31 and another aged 35 - were removed from the Mardi Gras parade ground, near Taylor Square, following an unauthorised entry about 10pm.
No further police action was anticipated.
During the operation, police arrested 13 people for offences, including assault, affray, and drug possession.
Extensive road closures were put in place to facilitate the parade; and, while a small number remain in place, major roads have been successfully reopened.