Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras may be the biggest queer party of the year, but LGBT Australians’ freedom to march didn’t come without a fight. Courtney Act teamed up with MTV Australia to give us a little herstory lesson on the two-week-long celebration that is currently under way Down Under.
The Drag Race star explains that it all began in 1978, when hundreds marched down Oxford Street to protest the law that made homosexuality illegal. After a clash with police led to 53 of the protesters being arrested, the local paper published a list of their names, outing them to their families and friends and causing many to lose their jobs.
Courtney goes on to explain that the march grew in size each year, even throughout the ’80s when opponents of LGBT rights used the AIDS epidemic to try to shut the parade down.
Mardi Gras then went mainstream in the ’90s, with celebrities like Kylie Minogue “risking their fame in the name of our community.”
With Australia still fighting for marriage equality, Courtney reminds us that there are still plenty of issues to be marching for in 2017. Get your full herstory lesson with the video below.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 premieres March 24 at 8/7c on VH1.