This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which, in 1978, saw participants savagely beaten by NSW police as they marched through Sydney into Kings Cross. It was a turning point for LGBTQI rights in Australia, culminating 40 years later in the marriage equality legislation passed late last year.
Last night, a group of the original participants of the inaugural Mardi Gras, known as the '78ers', gathered with supporters at the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross for a premiere screening of 'Riot', a television adaption of the events of 1978.
After the screening, the crowd marched down to Fitzroy Gardens, through the pouring rain, to stage a candle light vigil to remember the victims of the violent police attacks, on the site where they originally took place. 53 candles were lit to commemorate the 53 people arrested on that fateful night. The march was led by well known LGBTQI identity, Mother Inferior, who also serenaded those gathered with accordion and song.
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