Country gears up for 40th Mardi Gras celebrations

It’s the night of nights for the LGBTQI community in NSW and nationwide as the annual Mardi Gras take place. This year is extra special as the event is celebrating it’s 40th birthday. 

An enormous exploding champagne bottle, giant butterfly puppets and a wedding ceremony with a difference will form some of the key moments in the 2018 Sydney Mardi Gras parade.

Sydney's famous Oxford Street will be bursting with colour, music and an enormous amount of glitter as more than 12,000 people take part.

Mardi Gras chief executive Terese Casu said the fact that a couple would be able to legally tie the knot during the parade highlighted how much Mardi Gras had changed since it began in 1978 when more than 50 people were arrested after police tried to stop it.

People from around the regions will travel to Sydney to be a part of the exciting parade. 

Fairfax Media has been capturing the excitement of Mardi Gras throughout the week as the LGBTQI community, their family and friends have been getting ready for the event.

Dykes on Bikes, started 30 years ago, and were in it for the fun of it, but they had an important role – they provided safety at a time when many in the community were being harassed, beaten, and even murdered. For Illawarra couple Deni Murray and Rylee Cole, the ride is about standing strong and proud.

Dubbo’s Cheryl Burke will be dancing in the 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade with her child in mind. The fun-loving mum will be behind the suicide-prevention charity RU OK? float, themed “Listen with Love”. Ms Burke said her child has suffered with mental health issues and has jumped at the chance to support the charity. 

Members of the Central West Rainbow Community look set to make history at the parade. The 20 men and women believe they make up the “first organised group” from the region to be included in the parade.

Maclay’s Hayley Hoskins from Baylin’s Gift is preparing to march in the parade in her son’s honour alongside Kempsey’s Dreamtime Divas.  Mrs Hoskins lost her son Baylin, who was battling depression and struggling for acceptance of his sexual orientation, to suicide in 2016 and started the charity Baylin’s Gift in his honour. 

For those who can’t get to the City, Hay is putting on their own celebration to coincide with the parade. Kerry Aldred, Kerri Mijok and Krista Schade had the idea to celebrate the parade’s anniversary by watching it on the big screen together and it has turned into a community-wide event. 

If you or someone you know is battling with mental ill health or suicidal thoughts call life line 13 11 14.