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Today’s Mardi Gras is one of Sydney, Australia’s most famous and well-loved events.  Each year, thousands take over the city, culminating in the world-famous Parade: a colorful and dazzling night of pride, celebration and self-expression.
 
So how did Mardi Gras reach this iconic status? The irony is the event that today, inspires the world to love each other by celebrating the power and beauty of diversity, was founded through opposition. 

Courtney Act’s Herstory of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

'It wasn’t always sequined hot pants, fake tan and glitter'Courtney Act explains why the world needs The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras now more than ever!#mtvpride

Posted by MTV Australia on Tuesday, February 28, 2017

 
As Courtney Act explains in her new video, produced by MTV Australia, the first march took place in 1978 when several hundred gays, lesbians and straight supporters – some in fancy dress – gathered at Taylor Square and followed a truck with a small music and sound system down Oxford Street to Hyde Park. Sydney police harassed the marchers along the way, confiscating the truck and arresting its driver. Angered, the marchers diverted to Darlinghurst Road. There, the police swooped in again,  violently arresting 53 men and women, many of whom were beaten in cells. Over the months that followed, more protests and arrests took place and the actions of the police came to be seen as heavy handed.
 
In 1979, parliament repealed the legislation that had allowed the arrests to be made and later that year, approximately 3,000 people marched in an incident-free parade. In 1980, a key new element was introduced: the post-parade party.
 
The face of the modern Mardi Gras – that Conde Nast recently named as one of the world’s top ten costume parades in the world – began to take shape.

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