Mardi Gras began as a protest parade and ended with police violence triggering a night of running street battles with the cops. At a time of extreme homophobia and transphobia, the 78ers battled the institutional racism of the cops, the courts, the government and the media to inspire a generation to challenge sexual oppression. They faced brutal beatings, arrests and media slander to win the right to protest and unleash a struggle to overturn homophobic laws. Many of the Mardi Gras activists were socialists of all stripes who saw the struggle for LGBTI+ rights as tied up with the struggle against capitalism. This session will look at the radical history of the first Mardi Gras with a guest 78er who was eyewitness to the struggle.
Image: Women marching in front of the Gay Solidarity Group banner, International Day of Gay Solidarity March, 24 June 1978, photo by Sallie Colechin