Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the biggest, craziest, oldest, and most famous (or infamous) LGBT pride events in Australia. The event which takes place this year from February 15th to March 3rd includes dozens of different events, parties, festivals, workshops, and everything you can imagine. All of it culminating in the big Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade which regularly draws over 300,000 participants in the parade alone.
One of the big events at Mardi Gras is one of the first. “Fair Day,” which is the “biggest and best-loved community event of the season.” Taking place last Sunday, February 17th in Victoria Park. Over 80,000 people came to enjoy live entertainment, delicious food, and meet the organizations and clubs that are part of the LGBT community in Sydney.
This year, the Fair Day included a special Sports Village which brought together all the different LGBT Sports Clubs and teams from Sydney together to celebrate sports diversity and invite people to get involved in their clubs. Instagram has blown up with pictures of such diversity in sports at the Sports Village this year!
Anchored by Team Sydney, which “Promotes sport, fitness and healthy lifestyles among Sydney’s diverse community sports organisations. We help connect and promote over thirty-member organisations, representing several thousand individual sports people.” The event included…
Sydney Spectres (Basketball), Sydney Spokes (Cycling), Sydney Women’s Baseball League (Baseball) , Sydney Frontrunners (Running), Sydney Convicts (Rugby), Sydney Rams Tenpin (Bowling), Sydney Stingers (Water Polo), Bentstix Hockey Club (Field Hockey), Lifesavers with Pride (Surf Liversavers), Sydney Rangers FC (Soccer), Sydney Silverbacks (Wrestling), The Flying Bats (Soccer), Tennis Sydney (Tennis), Wettones (Swimming) and so many more!
In addition to Fair Day, several teams are organizing LGBT themed/ oriented sports events during and after Mardi Gras. Check it out!
- February 21st, Gay and Lesbian Martial Arts is hosting a Kickbox Self Defense Course to help LGBTIQ learn more about self-defense through kickboxing.
- February 23rd, Sydney Roller Derby Presents PRIDE FIGHT. It is their annual “Butch vs Femme Roller Derby Pride Fight” and includes two roller derby matches and “edge of your seat queer skating action!”
- February 23rd, Sydney Rangers FC is hosting the Mardi Gras Football Tournament inviting both “Rangers and Non-Rangers players for a fun filled day” including PIZZA!
- February 23rd, Mardi Gras Open Day by Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club. Learn more about Dragon Boating which includes some kind of “sausage sizzle” Sounds… tasty!
- February 23rd, Freezone’s Mardi Gras Mixer Tournament. Freezone Volleyball is hosting one of the biggest volleyball tournaments of the season! Registrations are already filling up with almost 30 teams registered.
- February 24th, Bentstix Have A Go Day. Introduction to Field Hockey for everybody who has or has not handled a stick!
- February 25th, Sydney Rams Tenpin annual Mardi Gras Tournament a fun bowling tournament held every year inviting LGBT bowling clubs from all over Australia to participate.
- February 27th, Mardi Gras Film Festival Presents “Light in the Water” screening the documentary about the origins of the West Hollywood Aquatic Club who fought homophobia in sport and gave birth to the LGBT Aquatics Movement.
- March 1st, the Sydney Stingers take on the Water Polo New South Wales All Stars including various Olympians and National Team athletes taking on the Stingers at the Sydney University Aquatics Center. The match is to celebrate LGBTIQ Inclusion in Sports and takes place the day before the Parade!
- March 5th, Hit & Giggle with the Sydney Outfielders Softball League. Open to all players, especially those who’ve never played before to learn more about softball! All equipment is provided and experienced players are there to help coach.
- March 24th and 31st– Sydney Wettones are hosting two FREE women’s swimming bootcamps to help promote and encourage more women to get involved in swimming. It’s free to take part and a great way to meet the team!
Team Sydney is leading the LGBT Sports Teams in the Mardi Gras Parade on March 2nd and their float will include a choreographed dance routine, rainbow speedos and thousands of people watching! The event every year garners a lot of media coverage and is one of the largest Pride Parades in the world.
It is refreshing to see so many and such diverse LGBT Sports Organizations come out for Mardi Gras. The presence of sports within the LGBT community is important, not just for health and fitness, but for socialization and comradery. We’ve learned that our rights and freedoms are still at risk. That equality is not yet universal. LGBT sports are about empowering ourselves, each other and our community. We’re not condemning ourselves to a ghetto but instead connecting with people who will accept us, help us grow and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Through sports, we can celebrate who we are and educate people about our cause.
It’s amazing to see the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrate the LGBT Sports Community with the Fair Day Sports Village and so many different events. We hope it’ll set an example for more pride festivals to include the LGBT Sports Community.
By Dirk Smith