Matthew Mitcham, the 20-year-old
Australian diver that wowed at the Olympics in Beijing when he stole
the gold from the Chinese, kicked off Sydney's giant gay pride parade
Saturday, reports The Daily Telegraph.
The annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
drew an estimated 300,000 people along its Oxford Street route to
enjoy more than 130 floats representing a number of causes,
including Surf Life Saving Australia, Taronga Zoo, and indigenous
Australians. That's about the same number of people attending last
Mitcham, now elevated to rock-star
status, stood atop the first float to launch the parade surrounded
by male dancers dressed only in swimming Speedos. The Olympic hero
mistakenly outed himself when speaking to a reporter just weeks
before the games but has since come to relish the attention of being
the gold winning gay diver who kissed his boyfriend at the Olympics.
(A dramatic moment NBC decided to edit out of prime time.)
What started 31 years ago as a gay and
transsexual march for equality has blossomed into one of the world's
most celebrated and lavish gay parties.
Along its main Oxford Street artery
people had begun gathering six hours prior for a prime viewing spot.
Police barricades held back thousands of revelers competing for the
unofficial prize of most outrageous costume.
A float dedicated to the memory of
slain gay politician Harvey Milk snaked its way through the
streets of Sydney.
True to its activist roots, the parade
was dedicated to the GLBT people around the world who continue to
face discrimination and prejudice.
“We hope Mardi Gras can act as a
beacon for our gay brothers and sisters everywhere,” Mardi Gras
Chair David Imrie told reporters in Sydney.