Sydney comes out for a gay time

“COME on board honies and celebrate, let’s have a good time!”

The words of Rosa the Russian Beautician captured the vibe at Sydney’s 2010 Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night.

“Everybody likes dressing up,” she said. “So if anyone wants to jump on the bandwagon ...”

Her invitation didn’t fall on deaf ears.

Parade watchers began lining the 2km route in the early afternoon, and by the time the show kicked off on Saturday evening crowds were 10-deep.

Those organised enough to get a front-row spot waved rainbow flags, and 73-year-old Jim Davies, who went with his wife Glenda, scored a kiss from drag-queen Lovely Liz.

“That’s the benefit of turning up early,” Jim says.

The couple has a gay grandson and they say they are proud of his sexuality.

This year’s march consisted of about 9000 participants and 135 sparkling floats, belting out iconic gay tunes while teams of frocked-up dancers performed their routines.

Many portrayed this year’s theme, History of the World, showcasing gay history and shining a pink light on some colourful historical figures and events.

Osama Bin Laden came out of hiding, while NSW Labor Party zombies also reared their ugly heads.

For the first time, a transsexual – US model and performer Amanda Lepore – led the parade.

A float of 150 dancing George Michaels was organised in an attempt to lure the former Wham singer along.

There was much speculation he would make a surprise appearance, after plugging the event at his Sydney concert on Friday night.

Husband-and-husband Marc Van Den Broek and Tim Dekkers channelled the British singer by wearing ‘Choose Life’ T-shirts.

They wedded nine years ago in their native Holland and say Australia needs to get with the times and recognise same-sex marriage.

“Mardi Gras is important for gay rights, to show who you are, what you want to be, where you want to live,” Mr Dekkers said.

Now in its 33rd year, the Mardi Gras parade started out as a protest march for gay rights in 1978.

It has grown into a world-famous event, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators and harnessing the support of the State Government, the NSW Police Force and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

Such recognition shows how far the gay and lesbian community has come, said drag queen Glenda Waverly, who attends every year to ‘promote diversity and equality’.

“It’s great to have the police here because in 1978 everyone was arrested,” she said.

But Vivian Chen, who dressed as Bjork for the occasion, feels it is still tough for her.

“There is so much discrimination still happening every day and it’s only once a year that no one can say anything,” she said.

As this year’s parade came to an end, organisers said it was too early to estimate crowd numbers, but they believe it was in the hundreds of thousands.

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