Stu Doherty's Amazing Mardi Gras Stories

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

✦ Celebrating LGBT History Month

Where fashion meets drag in high performance arts

Say Mardi Gras and a riot of colours, music, parties and parades come to mind.

Mardi Gras, Courtney Act and Stu Doherty, featured on Brilliant-Online
Courtney Act and Stu Doherty: Stu designs their costumes for the 2014 Mardi Gras Parade Entry, the Love Train

Mardi Gras in Australia, also known as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, is a LGBTQI+ not-for-profit member-based organisation that produces the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and Festival and several other events and supportive initiatives throughout the year.

Every year, Mardi Gras brings together LGBTQIA+ communities from all around the country where we gather in a colourful explosion of self-expression, celebration and protest. The glittering Parade and Festival are a demonstration of the amazing power of passion, creativity and community.

Brilliant-Online speaks to Stu Doherty from Wauchope Creative Hub about his Mardi Gras experiences and he has quite a number of very colourful stories to share.

What is Mardi Gras like in Australia?

We have the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras here, which is a festival attended by hundreds of thousands of people from around Australia and the world. It is held in March each year.

As you can imagine, it is a huge event! In fact, Mardi Gras pumps more than 30 million dollars into the state economy each year. So I'd say we do take Mardi Gras rather seriously here - we want to have some serious fun and get the celebrations going!

Mardi Gras today includes a variety of events such as the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade and Party, Bondi Beach Drag Races, Harbour Party, Academic discussion panel Queer Thinking, Mardi Gras Film Festival, Art exhibitions as well as a huge Fair Day.

It feels like you simply do not have enough time to experience all of the events!

How did Mardi Gras come about?

We need to jump into a DeLorean and travel back to 24th June 1978 and set the time machine to exactly 10 pm.

There was a night-time celebration following a morning protest march and commemoration of the Stonewall riots in the US organised by the Gay Solidarity Group. More than 500 people gathered on Oxford Street in Sydney in a planned street "festival" calling for an end to discrimination against homosexuals in employment and housing, an end to police harassment and the repeal of all anti-homosexual laws.

Many voices were heard that day, and thanks to that, things have changed and in our present day we can celebrate together as one huge community without fear or prejudice.

How involved have you been in Mardi Gras and which were your most memorable?

Oh I've got some really great stories to share from my time then! I’ve been involved in