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News article on the parade

Lampoons at Mardi Gras

March 5, 2006 - 2:48AM


Kate Moss dancers snorting 'cocaine' were there, along with a spoof of gay-cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain and 'friends' of the apparently gay-friendly Dick Cheney.

The essential lampoon of Prime Minister John Howard was also thrown in, as well as a 'celebrity' float headed by the new face of Australian tourism, Lara Bingle, and music guru Molly Meldrum.

Some 500,000 people are estimated to have crammed streets around Sydney's unofficial gay district of Oxford St tonight to catch a glimpse of the parade, which this year had the theme "I believe".

The event - the culmination of a month of gay-pride festivities - featured thousands of marchers and 120 floats, many rich with political statements.

Desmond James, 42, said the night was about drawing attention to injustice at home and abroad, citing the drop-off in tourist trade in Bali since terrorist bombings of 2002 and last year.

Flashing a bronze chest through a silk skirt, Mr James said the inspiration for the inaugural Barbie Rainbow Float came as he holidayed in Bali.

"We were just saying how sad it was that Bali was so quiet at the moment and how we really needed to try and get tourists back," he said.

"So we thought why not turn it into a Mardi Gras float and get it back on the map."

Sporting sparkles, smiles and the Australian flag, home-grown Farah Fictoor, 24, Renaee Ryder from England, 26, and Filipino Fyljoy Volefdico, 25, rocked their way to "World Peace" on their float.

"I think within Australia there is really a lot of culture and it's great when the whole community comes together and celebrates it," Ms Volefdico said.

Among the glitz and glamour was a pirate ship carrying Captain Crook of Bennelong - who bore an uncanny resemblance to Prime Minister John Howard, who is the MP for the Sydney seat of Bennelong.

Friends of Dick Cheney featured, a nod to the US Vice President who publicly praised his lesbian daughter and refused to support a US ban on gay marriage, contradicting his leader George W Bush.

After a love-struck meeting at Mardi Gras two years ago, Jay Lynch and Dwone Jones said the parade was the perfect way to celebrate their anniversary.

"It has become a meeting ground for gays from around the world and as discrimination continues it's important we can connect on this level, and continually redefine what it means to the community," Mr Lynch yelled from the sidelines.

Chair of the New Mardi Gras board, Marcus Bourget, said the event, launched as a political protest in 1978, was still about providing a powerful voice for the lesbian and gay community.

But the parade had become many things to many people, said Newcastle woman Donna Newella.

The 31-year-old has been coming to Sydney for the Mardi Gras for five years, but this time she brought her three young daughters, aged 12, seven and four.

"It is not just about gays and lesbians," she said.

"It's about all different issues that have arisen ... freedom of speech, being able to represent one's identity and being able to put a political point across."

- AAP

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