Yours truly, The Department of Homo Affairs

On the warm autumn evening of 6 March 2021, a group of activist friends were waiting, dispersed among thousands assembled to watch the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. Due to COVID-19, the celebration was moved from its regular Oxford Street site to the Sydney Cricket Ground so attendance could be controlled. Waves of nervous excitement washed over the activists. The stadium vibrated with dance music and masses of spectacularly garbed participants marched in celebration of Australia’s LGBTQIA+ community. Dressed as cricket umpires in white coats, sneakers, sunglasses, hats and masks, four members of the group leapt over the barrier to the beat of Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘September’ and ran onto the field in front of the police contingent, who were carrying signs proclaiming, ‘We are here for you’. The group’s own banner had perfectly unfurled to reveal their message: ‘COPS OUT – HOWZAAAT!!! #BLM #’78’. About fifteen seconds later, a Mardi Gras attendant who had been sprinting from far afield tore the banner out of their hands. The umpires held up their index fingers, yelling, ‘YOU’RE OUT! YOU’RE OUT!’ as if the police’s wickets had been struck. The whole protest lasted for about three-and-a-half minutes before (non-parading) police escorted the umpires off-field where each activist received a fine of $165. 

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