A sea of rainbow-coloured gowns and mortar-boards lent a bookish edge to Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Saturday night, with 75 students and staff members joining the fun as part of the University of Sydney’s first-ever float.
Performing in front of a 300,000-strong crowd to Lady Gaga's 'Born this Way', Taylor Swift's 'Shake it Off' and David Bowie and Mick Jagger's 'Dancing in the Street', University of Sydney supporters rallied beneath the 'Campus' banner in a celebration of diversity and self-expression.
The much-anticipated float featured a brilliant rainbow-hued Quadrangle made from organza, alongside a Jacaranda tree adorned with personal messages from students and staff written at O-Week.
The University of Sydney's first Mardi Gras float was launched thanks to efforts by staff and students at the Ally Network, which supports the University of Sydney's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LBGTIQ) community.
At the helm of the University's float was Ally Network chair Mark Smith, who performed as his alter-ego 'Jacky Randa' at the 38th annual parade.
"It was a dream come true and I'm really proud that within 12 months of establishing the Ally Network the University is participating in the Mardi Gras Parade," he said.
"The University recognising the role of Mardi Gras in relation to the LGBTIQ community shows we have come a long way. This is one of the most exciting times to be at Sydney, especially with the new strategic plan recognising we have a diverse culture.
"It's great to see an established institution like the University of Sydney let its hair down and prove that we're 150 years young and still love to party!"
Provost Professor Stephen Garton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Shane Houston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison and Vice-Principal (Operations) Sara Watts also participated as parade walkers at the event.
University of Sydney representative, Jacky Randa, talks about what it means for the University to be involved in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for the first time.