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WATCH: Thousands Celebrate at Sydney Gay Mardi Gras Parade

By Trudy Ring

From members of the Australian Defence Force to Dykes on Bikes, more than 9,000 people took part in Sydney, Australia’s 35th-anniversary gay Mardi Gras parade Saturday night, while 300,000 spectators took it all in.

“Sydney Mardi Gras is well known as a good time, but it’s so much more than a street parade,” cochair Peter Urmson told Agence France-Presse. “It’s what we do to continue the struggle against discrimination and inequality as it impacts on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people.”

The parade, for instance, featured marchers calling for marriage equality in Australia. Several politicians participated, including Green Party leader Christine Milne, marching in a group of parents of gay children.

This was the first year members of the Defence Force were allowed to wear their uniforms in the parade. “It's absolutely exhilarating,” said Vince Chong, a squadron leader in the Royal Australian Air Force. “This is about us being proud of the uniform, and it allows us to show how proud we are of the ADF.”

The parade, which grew out of a 1978 protest march, was dedicated this year to the “78ers,” the original demonstrators. Some of them marched at the front of the parade.

While the parade was political, it was also about having a good time. “Last night’s parade was a cheeky, colourful, irreverent and fun as Sydney expects it to be,” Mardi Gras chief executive Michael Rolik told AFP.

Watch video of the event below, courtesy of the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper.

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