This Mardi Gras, We Rise

The Sydney Mardi Gras parade is almost here! It’s crazy to think that some of our last memories of a pre-COVID world was Sydney Mardi Gras 2020 – around one whole year ago.

This year it’s going to be very different with social distancing, seated drinking and restrictions on mingling and dancing at clubs and pubs.

But while we may not be able get up and dance to WAP, or march down Oxford Street as we have in years past, there’s no reason why we still can’t connect with the spirit of Mardi Gras, and support the festivities in a COVID-safe way.

So, here’s the scoop on getting glittered-up, and hooking-up in a COVID-safe way this Mardi Gras.

What is the theme for Sydney Mardi Gras 2021?

Given how unprecedented and unpredictable the last year has been, it’s no surprise that the 2021 theme is an expression of hope and resilience: rise.

Sydney Mardi Gras had this to say about rise as their choice for 2021:

When we rise to the occasion, amazing things happen. We are agents of change. We rise to the challenge of being our true selves, of loving who we love, of discovering our own identities, culture and creativity.

We connect. We overcome fear. We emerge from hard times stronger together.

The focus of Sydney Mardi Gras 2021 is revival, rising out of a painful year and into the positive future we can build, if we’re brave and bold enough.

What does it mean to “Rise”?

The lockdown was a unique experience for many of us. The venues who helped connect us closed, or were heavily restricted. The comforts that helped maintain our wellbeing were likewise barred to us, such as gyms, socialising with friends, and even eating lunch in a park or by the beach. We actually started having conversations on Grindr, rather than the usual dick pic opener (we still did some of that, though). Post-lockdown, we’ve been rising everyday as the pandemic evolved in Australia.

The first Mardi Gras was born out of an act of rising against police brutality and social inequality. It has always been an occasion to rise, gather and celebrate who we are as a community. Parade night and the following parties have always seemed to uplift individuals from the social bonds that might classify us otherwise (whether we like it or not). On Mardi Gras night, everyone rises and everyone loves.

In the 1980s we came together to fight a different epidemic; HIV. Organising to fight this little-understood virus was tough and took a toll on our community that we still feel to this day. Yet it taught us what we are capable of and what we can overcome when we work together.

Back then, just as we do now, we rise to the occasion, coming together to overcome a common threat; a virus that does not discriminate.

How can we rise together and celebrate this Mardi Gras?

While some of our most beloved events have been cancelled or postponed (Fair Day and Mega Malebox to name a couple), there are many ways you can rise and celebrate this Mardi Gras.

1. Rise with a costume

As far as we’re aware, there’s no COVID-19 restrictions on what you can and cannot wear! Plan a costume that befits the theme, or simply makes you feel like the queen (or king) you are inside.

If you’re wanting some ideas, a phoenix, butterfly or unicorn-inspired costume are in tune with rise as a theme. Bring your creativity to put together something truly unique, capturing your imagination and personality in an outfit to remember. Go wild and embrace the pageantry this year!

There are also plenty of places and events you can attend and wear that costume too, but we’ll get to those!

2. Rise with a group of friends

Simply not comfortable going out to a venue yet? We get it. You can still dress up in all your glory and celebrate with a group of friends at home. Gather your circle, and arrange for someone to host a viewing party. The parade will be streamed live so you won’t miss out on any of the action.

3. Rise by attending an event or viewing party

For those of us who want to get out onto Sydney’s Oxford Street or whatever town we live in to support LGBTQI venues, there are events, some being ticketed, you can choose to go to and support.

Sydney Mardi Gras has also compiled a list of venues hosting parade viewing parties to watch the parade this Saturday 6th March. A fun alternative to not being able to see the spectacle of the parade at the SCG.

If you’re attending a venue, always remember to follow their COVID-safe rules and instructions. It’s been a tough year for them too, and everyone wants Sydney Mardi Gras 2021 to be a special night.




4. Rise by doing something positive

Parties, costumes and parades aren’t for you? Rise by doing something positive, anything really. Give a tip at your local gaybourhood cafe. Visit a friend you haven’t seen for a while. Donate to a charity. There are many things you can do to bring positivity into someone’s day.

5. Rise by playing safely

Mardi Gras is a time filled with celebration. And celebration can often lead to people being filled with… “joy”.

If you do plan to hook-up, make sure you’re prepared to do so safely. Use condoms to protect yourself and your partner from HIV and STI transmission. If you’re on daily PrEP, ensure you’re on point with your routine, or consider taking PrEP periodically or on-demand if that suits your needs.

PrEP won’t protect you from other STIs, so remember to test once every three months for HIV and STIs to make sure you are keeping on top of your sexual health.

Want to brush up on your skills before the big night? Here’s our guide to bottoming like a boss, and tips for topping like a gun.

How will you rise this Mardi Gras?