UK singer Sam Smith has been announced as a special guest at this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade and party.
One of the most influential LGBTIQ voices in music, the Stay with Me singer joins follow pop stars Kesha and Dua Lipa as international headliners.
They will appear along with Brazilian drag superstar Pabllo Vittar and a slew of extraordinary Australian and international DJs.
The festival kicks off on Valentine’s Day, leading to the parade and party on Saturday 29 February.
Smith’s latest hits, Dancing with a Stranger and How Do You Sleep?, made the Australian top ten last year.
They wrote on Instagram that their new pronouns reflected a decision to “embrace myself for who I am, inside and out”.
Mardi Gras creative director Kat Dopper said Smith’s openness about their identity had made them a sought-after inclusion for the event, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
“Sam was always a name we were chasing for the festival,” said Dopper.
“Sam is such a great advocate for our community and has been incredible at raising awareness, visibility, and acceptance for our community.”
Smith has been honoured with four Grammy Awards, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and three BRIT Awards, as well as winning Best Music Artist at the 2016 British LGBT Awards and scoring a nomination for Outstanding Musical Artist at the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards.
This year’s Mardi Gras party is the first since Sydney’s controversial lockout laws have been lifted, promising a bigger and more spectacular party along Oxford Street.
“It’s so wonderful,” said Dopper.
“But we’ve seen Oxford Street and our city’s culture change dramatically in the past six years and I think it’s going to take a little while for us to build up that vibe again.
“The beauty of Mardi Gras is that the city comes alive for those three weeks.
“Our party runs till 8 am, and [no lockouts] means people can stick their head into a couple of different pubs and venues across the city and enjoy as much of it as they can… It’s going to be a beast of a party, I think.”
Tickets for the party and other Mardi Gras events are available online now.