Pop icons Dua Lipa and Sam Smith perform at the 42nd Sydney Mardi Gras

Each year the event celebrates LGBTQI+ pride, culture and unity.


There was no shortage of glitz, glamour and biodegradable glitter in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade on Saturday. The 2020 event featured over 190 floats sashaying down Oxford Street, with hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the famous Sydney street to celebrate the LGBTQI+ community.

Familiar faces were spotted in the parade with both Dua Lipa and Sam Smith joining floats ahead of their performances at the Mardi Gras afterparty. Dua Lipa joined the Surf Life Saving Australia life guards who got physical and incorporated push-ups into their choreography. Sam Smith danced alongside Twenty10, an organisation supporting LGBTQI+ youth.

The joy radiating from the pop stars can only be described as the magic of Mardi Gras.

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I really appreciate this moment walking @samsmith across to the studio, it felt so pure. Over the past week I’ve had a front row seat for the beautiful disruption Sam’s pronouns have caused in board room meetings, backstage, in private conversations, in queer spaces, in the mainstream media, and in my own brain. I’ve sat with they/them pronouns for a while, educating myself, listening and understanding. I respected and believed what people told me and I used they/them where appropriate, but took me a while, there have been several shifts in my perception over the past few years. When I came to understand that one of the points of they/them pronouns is to disrupt our unconscious gender bias conditioning in language, I really started to enjoy them. Not to sound reductive but it’s punk and it’s feminist. I really admire the non-binary folk who use gender neutral pro-nouns, and understand it’s so much more than just a social disrupters, it’s who you are. I understand people have been using these pronouns long before Sam, and I’m aware of the privileges Sam has that allow them to hold this space in the mainstream, but also that privilege has impact in redefining how the media are using language. I think they/them using folk are actually pioneering a new path for us all. Watching everyone (including myself) struggle and squirm has been kinda fun in a weird way, it’s meant to be confusing, it’s meant to be hard, it’s a total rewiring of our brains and the unconscious and conscious biases we act out depending on whether we think someone has a penis or a vulva. So thank you to all the non-binary folk who use they/them pronouns for leading us on this journey, I know you’re just trying to live your lives, and don’t necessarily want to have to educate everyone constantly, but thank you

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The 2020 theme “What Matters” encouraged individuals to set their focus beyond the parties and to reflect on what really matters… love, diversity and striving for equality.

Sam Smith highlighted this sentiment on stage at the afterparty in Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion. They performed “Promises” in the most dramatically appropriate fashion; being raised in the air, draped in an enchanting red dress with “EQUALITY” stitched across it. After coming out as non-binary in September 2019, Sam highlighted the importance of self-love and acceptance. Their Mardi Gras performance radiated confidence, authenticity and glamour.

Dua Lipa’s set only added to the thrilling afterparty atmosphere. Embracing the Mardi Gras culture, her hair was big, her outfit was bold and her love and support for the LGBTQI+ community was loud. Dua treated fans to the first live performance of her latest single “Physical” and judging by the screams, they adored every moment.




Despite attendees still recovering from the weekend’s festivities, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras organisors have already locked in the 2021 dates. The Mardi Gras parade and party will take place on March 6, 2021 and we can’t wait to see which pop stars will perform next year.

Who would you love to see on the line up? Let us know!

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