United We Shine: Mardi Gras 2022

Sydney Mardi Gras 2022 is fast approaching! And after the last twelve months we’ve had, it’s high time for celebration.

This year’s festival program welcome’s back some of our favourite events, with Fair Day at the top of the list, and who knows, we just might also be able to get a dance in on parade night, if COVID-19 safety measures lift in time.

So, here’s the tea: we have a lot to look forward to and boy do we deserve it! We came together as a community to help combat COVID-19 by getting vaxxed and following health advice and made further progress towards ending HIV transmission by staying safe. Go on – pat yourself on the back.

What is the theme for Sydney Mardi Gras 2022?

The 2022 theme is an unapologetic expression of pride in who we are, as well as a celebration of the diversity of our rainbow community: united we shine.

Mardi Gras had this to say about united we shine as their choice for 2022:

Our theme UNITED WE SHINE signifies that when we band together, we shine brighter. It is a rallying call to stand up against hate and inequality, reminding us that when we rise as a collective, our message of love and inclusion is heard louder.

What does it mean to “shine”?

“Shining” is different for each of us, just like how we measure our personal successes and achievements. We all have individual talents to offer, unique forms of expression, and relate to the world on our own terms.

A person might shine by taking pride in their sexuality or being part of our rainbow community. It could be through your values, and how you convey them to the world around you. You might shine by being a positive presence in the lives of others. The late poet Maya Angelou said: “Be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.” There is no one way to shine.

The first Mardi Gras in 1978 embodies the theme of 2022. Our elders protested against police brutality, injustice, and social inequality. They stood united, for our right to shine unapologetically as our truest selves today.

In the 1980s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic devastated our community – arguably one of the greatest challenges we’ve ever faced. It was only because we united, that we were able to get to where we are today. We showed the world, that when we come together, raise our voices for ourselves and each other, nothing can dim our light.

How will Mardi Gras be different in 2022?

Almost two years have passed since our last parade down Oxford Street in 2020. Now that most of us are vaccinated against COVID-19, we can celebrate our pride a little more freely than we could in 2021. Hooray!

Fair Day will go ahead this year after a two-year hiatus, and will take place on Sunday, 20 February. A COVID-safe plan is in place, and proof of vaccination will be required. From what we know so far, we’re in for a camped-up rainbow extravaganza!

Under the current public health orders, there are some events that have had to be cancelled or postponed such as the Party, Sissy Ball and Kaftana Pool Party. If you had previously purchased tickets, keep an eye out for further information from the event organiser regarding rescheduling or to collect a refund. But just as some doors close, others open, with some more parties having been announced (and continuing to be announced). So, keep a look out!

On Saturday, 5 March, the . Nonetheless, the spirit of Mardi Gras will be ever-present, and the SCG will come alive as a beacon of pride on parade night.

Shine this Mardi Gras

Despite the changes to the festival program, there are many ways you can shine as you celebrate Mardi Gras in 2022.

1. Be aware of COVID-19 restrictions and plan ahead when partying

We’re no stranger to COVID-19 restrictions changing constantly. It pays to be aware of the rules and safety measures that apply to the events you plan to attend. Keep up to date on any communication from event organisers as there may be changes you need to be aware of before arrival.

2. Stay COVID-safe and practise good hygine

Mask-wearing and hand-hygiene should be second nature to us by now. It is no less important during Mardi Gras. Wear a mask when required, and wash/sanitise your hands regularly. If you’re unwell – and as much as it sucks – don’t attend venues or events and stay home. You wouldn’t want to make your friends sick, would you?

3. Respect yourself and others

It’s been a very tough couple of years for everyone, so look after yourself and your friends as you celebrate Mardi Gras this year. Many event organisers have gone above and beyond to ensure they can provide a wonderful experience for all attendees under the existing restrictions. While we’d all love to boogie to some Future Nostalgia or Chromatica, respect the rules in place at events you plan to attend.

4. Have fun and do it safely

There’s a lot of “fun” to be had during Mardi Gras – whether you’re attending any of the festival events or elsewhere across the state. If you plan to play, be prepared to do so safely. Use condoms to protect yourself and your partner from HIV and STIs. 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 circumstance. If it’s been a while since you’ve taken PrEP, consider speaking with your doctor about restarting PrEP.

PrEP isn’t a silver bullet and won’t protect you from other STIs. Remember to test once every three months. Testing for HIV and STIs is your ticket to “ride”.