A male Camilla Parker Bowles impersonator and several transvestite nuns were among some of the thousands of people who paraded through Sydney’s streets today for the city’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival.
Tens of thousands of spectators crammed Sydney’s Oxford street, the centre of the city’s gay scene, to catch a glimpse of the festival’s 130 floats.
One float paid tribute to the upcoming wedding of the Prince of Wales to Camilla Parker Bowles.
The parade, which started in 1978 as a gay rights march, had a serious side, too, with many participants advocating equal rights for gay people.
Kate Alway, 25, and her partner Kat Bowman marched side by side wearing top hats and coattails.
“We are second class citizens that can’t do the things that other people do,” Alway said, referring to Australia’s ban on gay marriage.
She and Bowman said they were marching to support adoption and marriage rights for gay couples.
Several of this year’s floats echoed the gay marriage theme.
One float entitled “Adam and Steve, Ada and Eve and the Garden of Freedom” featured the head of Prime Minister John Howard on the body of a massive serpent, while dozens of dancers wearing fig leaves and carrying giant apples marched behind.
Lisa Randall, a 36-year-old hotel manager, said she was ”proud and very happy” to be part of the float.
“We need the right to be married,” she said. “It should always be accepted.”
For many spectators and participants, Sydney’s Mardi Gras provided an excuse to hit the streets and party.
One reveler, who wore a pink nun’s habit and sequined robes and identified himself as Mother Premonstratensia, said he joined the parade to help spread “universal joy”.
Asked to describe the meaning of the festival, he waved his arm to indicate the massive crowd and said: “All these beautiful people, having a wonderful time.”