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The First Mardi Gras

Julie McCrossin

Sydney's first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras ended in shocking violence and multiple arrests. Julie McCrossin was there. Forty years on, the celebration's activist roots remain urgently relevant. Join Julie as she reflects on the cultural change that still needs to happen.

Chaired by Benjamin Law.

In the Playhouse.

“Mardi Gras is an international model for how to achieve justice for a minority.”
Julie McCrossin

What are we fighting for today?

24 June, 1978 – International Gay Solidarity Day, and the first ever Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Over five hundred activists paraded along Oxford Street, calling for an end to the criminalisation of homosexual acts. Their peaceful parade ended in shocking violence and multiple arrests.

Broadcaster Julie McCrossin was one of the demonstrators, and she well remembers the events around Sydney's first Mardi Gras that left many traumatised. She reflects on the mood of the time that created this iconic event, and its ongoing importance forty years later. While the parade today is an internationally recognised celebration, discrimination in the law and society remain – so what are we fighting for today?

More about Julie McCrossin...

Julie joined Gay Liberation in 1973, and met many fellow activists in the cells of Liverpool Police Station in the 1970s. Best known for her role as team leader on the quiz show Good News Week between 1996 and 2000, Julie has worked as a broadcaster with ABC Radio National, ABC TV, and Network Ten. She is now a freelance journalist and facilitator with qualifications in the arts, education and law, and is an Ambassador for Targeting Cancer and TROG Cancer Research.

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