Written by Cameron Adams
AS Australia prepares for Mardi Gras, did you know it began as a protest not a party?
Robyn Kennedy, one of the original participants at the first Mardi Gras in Sydney in 1978, has shared her memories. On June 24 that year, Robyn was part of 500 people who decided to have a street party at 10pm at Taylor Square.
A truck played music as members of the LGBTQIA+ community dressed up and danced at a time when their community was being vilified.
“It was a good atmosphere, light and fun…,” Robyn tells Dannii Minogue on her new Rainbow Party 90s podcast.
“It was going fine until the police intervened. That’s when it turned into a political riot because of the police violently attacking people. We called it a riot because we fought back. Because we were having a good time it was too much. So we started pushing back against the police, rescuing people who’d been thrown into police vans. It was very violent and quite scary. But at the same time it was very empowering because we were very united in saying this is too much, we’re not going to let it happen.”
Dannii’s Rainbow Party also features the singer recalling performing at Mardi Gras for the first time in 1998.
“When you’re standing on that stage it’s all about the energy you feel from the crowd, the anticipation, and the heat in the room – the walls are literally dripping,” Dannii says. “And there’s a real feeling of communal celebration. It’s a safe space and for performers it’s a way of saying thank you for all the support.”
A long time ally to the LGBTQIA+ community – along with sister Kylie – in 1999 Dannii wrote and released a song especially for Mardi Gras called Everlasting Night.
A more inclusive acronym, LGBTQIA+, is being used this year. LGB stands for lesbian, gay and bisexual. T stands for transgender, Q for queer – an umbrella term that can represent anyone who is non-heterosexual. I stands for intersex, A for asexual and the plus sign covers other identities on the rainbow spectrum such as pansexual and Two Spirited. For a full guide to acronyms and the rainbow flag, visit this link: News: A More Inclusive Acronym and Flag (mardigras.org.au)
The 2022 Mardi Gras can be seen on ABC Saturday March 5 at 7.30pm.
Listen to more of this episode, and the rest of The 90s with Dannii Minogue podcast series here: