The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras doesn’t start and end with the glitter-laden parade up Oxford St on Saturday 3 March — there’s a jam-packed program of cultural events that lights up the Harbour City for 16 days around it. Read on for eight of the best acts you can see at this year’s Mardi Gras.
Museum of Love and Protest
Darlinghurst’s National Art School Gallery reflects on four decades of acceptance and activism to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras at this pop-up museum. Running from Friday 16 February to Sunday 4 March, the Museum of Love and Protest brings together an extensive collection of original costumes, intimate photos, rare archival footage and historic posters from 1978 to today.
Queer Screen’s 25th Mardi Gras Film Festival
Queer Screen celebrates a quarter-century of showcasing LGBTQI stories on the silver screen with another vibrant Mardi Gras Film Festival in 2018. This year’s program features 30 Australian premieres from every corner of the globe, notably the award-winning Beach Rats and hilarious, heartfelt drama-comedy Signature Move.
The Seymour Centre’s free twilight gigs are a highlight of Sydney’s live music scene, and they’ll have a rainbow streak in February and March with a handful of Mardi Gras events. Harley Mavis and Elizabeth Hughes kick things off on Saturday 17 February before Rachel Maria Cox and Hollow States (Sunday 18 February) then a bumper all-female Chicks with Picks line-up (Friday 23 February) take to the stage.
Queer Art After Hours
The Art Gallery of New South Wales throws its regular Wednesday night Art After Hours program over to the Mardi Gras on Wednesday 28 February, with a glittering array of queer performances and live music to accompany night-time tours. The event overlaps with the Gallery’s ‘Robert Mapplethorpe: the perfect medium’ exhibition, offering a rare glimpse into New York’s gay scene in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s through the lens of one of history’s greatest photographers.
Moogahlin Performing Arts Inc teams up with Mardi Gras to deliver a six-day showcase of the queer culture and communities of Australia’s First Peoples. The Indigenous-led event is made up of Black Nulla Workshops for queer First Peoples performers, the Black Point community forum and a Speakers Platform of international thinkers, before the curtain falls with the Black Nulla Cabaret performance on Saturday 24 February.
The Seymour Centre welcomes the award-winning cabaret JOAN between Friday 16 February and Sunday 18 February, a production by British theatre company Milk Presents that sits at the forefront of the burgeoning Drag King genre. Lucy Jane Parkinson takes to the stage as Joan of Arc, one of history’s greatest gender warriors who has a very contemporary take on modern-day identity politics.
Equality Dance Australia Festival
“To promote dance as a pathway to a healthy life for the benefit of mind, body and spirit; to encourage equality of opportunity for all to dance; and to support gender equality in dance”. That’s the mission of Equality Dance Australia, and it’s on display at the Marrickville Town Hall on Saturday 24 February when both same-sex and opposite-sex dance teams of all levels and abilities take part in ballroom competition before letting their hair down at a gala ball.
Bring your thinking caps to Redfern’s Carriageworks on Saturday 24 February and Sunday 25 February for a Mardi Gras meeting of the minds. Queer Thinking brings together thought provocateurs from around Australia and the globe representing all walks of LGBTQI life for a program of debates and discussions reflecting on the 40 years of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.