Sydney, Australia | AFP | Saturday 3/1/2020 – 01:09 UTC+8
Australia’s wildfires seemed an age ago amid the glitz of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, but Saturday’s celebration brought the firefighters who battled them together with climate change activists.
Hundreds of thousands of people cheered on over 200 floats as they rolled through the city’s gay hub, filled with revellers festooned in everything from feathers to body paint.
Firefighters are a common sight in the annual parade, which has been running for over 40 years, but after battling through a “black summer” their presence seemed particularly pointed amid several climate change themed floats.
“It makes me feel very proud actually, it’s amazing to see the turn-out of the members that are here tonight. There’s over 80 of us here today,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service volunteer and parade participant Madelyn Schmidt told AFP.
The 18-year-old was out at blazes several times during the bushfires which killed more than 30 people and destroyed thousands of homes in the country.
Schmidt said she had been taking photos with grateful parade participants all day.
From a sustainably constructed puppet personifying the Earth to a planet roasting on a spit, political messages peppered the parade in a reflection of its roots.
In 1978 the first march ended when police violently clamped down on a small group of protesters.
Now, police march with the parade alongside a casino, a bank and many other corporate sponsors, in one of the city’s biggest events.
“It has changed a lot over the time but I think it is so important that we get out as a community and show what’s important to us,” Hoop Force Australia float participant Kelly Jones said.
Overflowing with green paper leaves and flowers, her float was jungle-themed and raising money for the Rural Fire Service.
With the overall parade theme of “What matters”, hundreds of causes were represented in the brightly coloured event.
Although its heart is the celebration of LGBTQI+ community, the march has a willingness to fight other battles, Jones said.
“It’s also for everyone to come out and say we love love. We love what’s important to us and it’s a way to show that, so I think it’s amazing.”
© Agence France-Presse
Cover image: Participants march in the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney on February 29, 2020. (Photo by SAEED KHAN / AFP)