Sydney celebrated its 32nd gay and lesbian Mardi Gras parade even as Almost 10,000 people shimmied, strutted and strode through the ages on Saturday.
More than 100 floats with 9,500 performers filled the city's streets, with Osama bin Laden and Michael Jackson among figures to feature in the "History of the World" themed event.
AdvertisementMichael Rolik, CEO of the Mardi Gras committee described the parade as a "rich tapestry of the serious and the trivial, the sexy and the cutesy, the personal and the public message".
New York transgender artist and entertainer Amanda Lepore was to lead the floats as Chief of Parade, promising to be as "naked as possible" -- save for a strategically-placed rhinestone.
Organisers said they expected more than 100,000 spectators, with an elaborate spectacle that promised to celebrate homosexuality, and famous gay people, through the ages.
Tributes to Ancient Greek poet Sappho, Leonardo da Vinci, Dusty Springfield, Oscar Wilde and Alexander the Great were to feature alongside firefighters, scantily-clad surf lifesavers and popular leather-clad lesbian motorcyclists "Dykes on Bikes".
Bollywood dance routines beneath a pink Taj Mahal were expected on the Trikone float, which represents gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of South Asian descent living in Australia.
Political satire and religious parody were a parade staple, alongside countless stilettoed drag queens.
The entire Mardi Gras festival, which runs for weeks either side of the world-famous parade, attracts thousands of international visitors to Sydney, injecting 30 million dollars into the local economy, said MP Verity Firth.
"Mardi Gras reflects Sydney's vibrant and colourful personality," Firth said. "It showcases our diversity and free-thinking spirit to the world."
US singer Whitney Houston and two-time Grammy winner George Michael were among the 2010 festival's headline names.
The inaugural 1978 march was staged at a time when male homosexuality was still illegal in New South Wales state, and ended with more than 50 arrests as police and protesters clashed. Now, police and even members of the military join the parade.
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