So you’ve decided to pop your gay Christmas cherry and brave Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade for the first time in 2020. Firstly, welcome. Secondly, fuck yes – there’s no greater time than now to get amongst one of the biggest LGBTQI events in the globe. We stan.

I experienced my first Mardi Gras back in 2017, and it was one of the most emotional nights of my life. I remember it as though it had been immortalised in an article. Oh wait…

“I started sobbing—loudly. I hadn’t cried like this since I was about 12,” I recounted to Out Magazine at the time. “I cried for the 15-year-old in me that had always wanted to go to a pride march. I cried for my 18-year-old self, who had always envisaged being amongst the flags and streams and floats and glitter but had never actually seen it as a probability. Being in the crowd, that night, was a small victory.” Safe to say, I had a pretty subdued time. Low-key.

Baby me:

(Caption update: it was probably about 18.)

Anyhoo, regardless of how you identify, what connections you have to the LGBTQI+ community, or how damn extra you are (me), you’re bound to feel something – getting swept up in the emotion of the night is inevitable.

As the world beings to flock to Sydney in preparation for the largest LGBTQI party in the southern hemisphere on Saturday, I deemed it an absolute necessity (gay rights) to equip you with some first-time pointers – a 2020 Mardi Gras survival guide, if you will – to ensure you’re less ‘deer in headlights’ and more ‘deer thriving in the limelight, period’.

PLAN… 

…the important stuff.

Time management is key. The parade usually kicks off at 7, so I’d head to Oxford St to find a good position by 6.30 at the latest. Have your bottle of Prosecco poured into a water bottle and make sure you pee before your group pushes the masses and settles on a spot (it’s likely you’ll need to pee again – cheers Prosecco – but every toilet trip involves having to break away from the gang and spending ages trying to find them again) (not hot).

Speaking of positions, unless you’re 7 foot (if you are, I salute you, gentle giant) it’s likely that you won’t secure lucrative barrier spots at the front and will be staring at the backs of a lot of heads. The solution? Crates. Bring one, or nab one from off the street. Trust me, they become prized possessions at the parade, and guarantee panoramic views no matter how far back you are.

WEAR…

…Whatever the fuck you feel like (unless whatever the fuck you feel like will land you in jail).

Yes, there’ll be a lot of harnesses, latex, naked bodies and glitter, but that definitely doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. The parade’s primary purpose is to champion individuality and freedom of expression, after all, so I reckon you should aim to be as unique as possible with your ‘fit. Harness or no harness, just wear whatever makes you feel your damn oats.

Either way, you’ll definitely need to dress up, as sporting some glam rags will immediately teleport you into the festivities. You may feel extra and OTT at the store or your home but you will definitely not feel extra and OTT at the parade – it’ll be the norm, if anything, and you’ll stand out more if you’re the one person who isn’t dressed up. So let your freak flag fly.

REMEMBER…

To feel all the damn feelings.

It’s truly a unique atmosphere, so put down your phone and soak it all in. At the end of the day, everyone’s there for the same reason – to celebrate love and identity in all its many facets – so smile, ask questions, talk to people you wouldn’t normally have the chance to talk to on a daily basis, hug strangers (consensually) and spread the love.

Have a gay ol’ time, in every sense of the word.

Happy 2020 Mardi Gras.

Image: Instagram / @louishanson; Getty / James D. Morgan