Moree represents at 2019 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade

Moree's Lyndon Hankey (centre) experienced Mardi Gras for the first time with his cousin Jeana Evans (right) and her partner Shiann Collins.
Moree's Lyndon Hankey (centre) experienced Mardi Gras for the first time with his cousin Jeana Evans (right) and her partner Shiann Collins.

Mardi Gras may have been a few weeks ago now, but one Moree resident is still coming off a high after attending the fabulous festival for the first time.

Lyndon Hankey recently returned from Sydney where he took part in the 41st annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday, March 2.

He was one of 12,500 marchers who took part in the world’s biggest celebration of the LGBTQI community, watched on by about 500,000 spectators who lined Oxford Street.

"It was amazing," he said of his experience.

"There was a hell of a lot of people, everyone was so happy.

"I don't think I've kissed and cuddled that many people I've never met in my life.

"Everyone's so open and happy."

Lyndon joined his Tasmanian cousin Jeana Evans and her partner Shiann Collins to march in the Diversity Launceston’s Rainbow Thylacines float.

They wore black shirts with rainbow-coloured Tasmania Tigers on the front to represent the courage of those who were arrested week after week for being gay or lesbian and fought for these rights until the law was changed.

Lyndon Hankey can be just seen carrying one of the rainbow Tasmanian Tigers as part of Diversity Launceston’s Rainbow Thylacines float.

Lyndon Hankey can be just seen carrying one of the rainbow Tasmanian Tigers as part of Diversity Launceston’s Rainbow Thylacines float.

Lyndon was the only Aboriginal person amongst the float of 40.

"I carried a Tasmanian tiger for the first half of the parade and danced the second half," he said.

"I was sore from head to toe the next day, just carrying one of those tigers was heavy, but so much of the walk was uphill.

"The blisters were well worth the walk though."

After years of his friends telling him to come to Mardi Gras, Lyndon finally decided to do it this year, and he doesn't regret it for a second.

It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Lyndon Hankey

"It was one of the best decisions I've ever made," he said.

"I'll definitely go back. That'll be my holiday every year."

Lyndon said his cousin's partner Shiann cried the whole way down the parade, after years of hiding her true self.

"It's given her a whole new life," he said.

After growing up in Moree, where he feels there is judgement, Lyndon feels the same and said he was able to just be himself during his visit to Sydney.

"Out here, you can be yourself, but you can't, to an extent," he said.

"I wouldn't have the balls to go out in Moree with eyeshadow on," he added laughing.

A number of other Moree people attending this year's parade.

Glen Crump was a part of the ACON Aboriginal Project's First Nations float - the very first in the parade of 197 floats.

He has been going to Mardi Gras for the past few years.

"I go each year as it is a chance for us all to acknowledge and celebrate the uniqueness of the gay and lesbian community and to show my support to the many friends and family I have in that community," he said.

"I love the fact that it showcases just how deverse the gay and lesbian community is and, in my personal opinon, there wouldn't be one family in this country that in some way wouldn't have a connection to the gay and lesbian community."

Following the parade, Glen and Lyndon met up at the Indigenous after-party - which featured Aboriginal drag queens doing tributes of The Sapphires - along with fellow Moree friends Russell Cook and Trent Duncan.

Moree represent: Glen Crump, Russell Cook, Trent Duncan and Lyndon Hankey.

Moree represent: Glen Crump, Russell Cook, Trent Duncan and Lyndon Hankey.

With so many people from Moree making the trek to Sydney for the festival each year, Lyndon believes Moree should enter its own float into next year's parade.