Rita Ora is to to perform at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras next month, as Pride events make a comeback in some parts of the world after a year of crushing cancellations.
There was a devastating shortage of mesh tops, drag queens and biodegradable glitter in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic saw nearly every major LGBT+ festival either cancelled or converted into digital-only events.
With some countries still under lockdown, plans for the 2021 Pride season also remain up in the air – but after action against the pandemic in Australia, Sydney is one of the first cities able to go ahead with a Pride event.
The 6 March event will be significantly different than normal, with the usual crowd-drawing parade through the city instead taking place entirely inside a COVID-secure venue, the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Organisers say that a stadium crowd will cheer on as 5,000 marchers, across 120 parade entries, take to the field in a vibrant display of diversity and unity. No floats are permitted at the march, bringing Pride back to its roots.
Tickets for the event are on sale for $20 each, though 2,000 will be made available free through a hardship fund.
With a strict limit on capacity, the tickets-only event will also be aired by Australia’s broadcaster SBS, while viewing parties will be held at more than 30 LGBT+ venues across Australia.
British singer Rita Ora, who was permitted to enter Australia after a quarantine period to film reality show The Voice Australia, heads up the line-up for the event, along with Electric Fields, ARIA Award-winning art-pop songwriter Montaigne, and “indie pop darling” G Flip.
Pride is definitely not a party this year.
However, while the parade and performances will be able to go ahead, organisers have had to cancel late-night parties that are still not permitted under relaxed restrictions.
Mardi Gras organisers said: “While we had looked towards the New Year with hope that we could stage these events in a safe format, the reality is that hosting any dance party events would pose too much risk to the health and safety of our community if they were to go ahead. We had workshopped many different event plans to find a way to make these events work, but with the current health orders we felt it best to hit the pause button for this year and bring them back when we know it’s safe to do so.
“Events taking place in the Mardi Gras Festival this year include our comedy gala Laugh Out Proud as well as Queer Thinking, My Trans Story and My Drag Story where incredible speakers across the LGBTQI+ community will discuss, share and debate a range of topics.
“And of course, our spectacular 43rd Annual Parade will be taking place on Saturday 6 March and televised live across the country on SBS. We encourage you to gather your friends, hold your own COVID-safe celebrations at home and tune into the broadcast.
“In wanting to provide greater opportunities for our communities to come together all year round, we’re also working on plans to hold events later in the year. It’s all hush hush right now but stay tuned in the coming months for the announcement!”