Retracing the steps of the first Mardi Gras by ABC News (Australia)

The first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade is often called "Australia's Stonewall" – a reference to the landmark gay rights uprising in New York City – because of the police brutality involved and the pivotal role it played in Australia's LGBTQIA+ rights movement. Despite this, many young queer people in Australia aren’t aware of the origin of the Mardi Gras – or that marginalized communities banded together in the fight against discrimination. The bravery of the marchers – the "78ers" – led to significant cultural and legislative change.

Retracing the steps of the first Mardi Gras is an immersive retelling of that first Mardi Gras in 1978, combining new video interviews and archival footage with a 3D rendering of the route of the march, allowing audiences to traverse the space as they absorb the story.

This interactive aimed to tell that story for a younger audience. It immediately engages the viewer by following the parade from the top of Oxford Street in central Sydney. As they scroll, the story retraces the route of the march, with interviews and archival footage driving the narrative.

The 3D rendering of Sydney was created using open source architectural and terrain data, and then stylised to more closely reflect the dark and chaotic context of the night. The route taken was constructed based on direct accounts from the 78ers, archival photography and footage, and historical satellite imagery.

The project was initiated and led by queer staff inside the ABC. This was critical to making sure the story’s framing and perspective recognised the continuing role the first Mardi Gras plays within that community. It also ensured the story would be treated with the sensitivity and respect it deserved.

  • Credits
    Alex Palmer - design, reporting and research; Paul Donoughue - reporting and research; Mon Schafter - interviews; Chloe Brice - reporting and research; Tejas Bhat - video production; Jack Fisher - video production; Gina McKeon - editing; Mark Doman - editing; Matthew Heffernan - development; Andrew Hystek-Dunk - development; Katia Shatoba - development
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