Penny Wong has plenty of firsts to her name as Australia’s first openly gay cabinet minister and the first to be of Asian descent.
But she has never marched in Mardi Gras, until now.
On Saturday, Senator Wong will join the Rainbow Labor contingent at the parade, marching alongside fellow frontbenchers Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese.
‘‘I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I’ve probably got a bit more space now, haven’t I?’’ she said, explaining that life in opposition has freed up her diary, and that her two-year-old daughter Alexandra is now sleeping a bit more.
‘‘It felt right to do it this year. And I’m really proud to be able to.’’ Senator Wong first attended Mardi Gras as a spectator in her 20s when she was living in Sydney.
‘‘I actually thought it was quite moving ... The celebration and affirmation was palpable.’’
The former finance minister said that Saturday’s march was a ‘‘message to all of Australia that we’re here and we’re a part of the broader Australian community’’.
Senator Wong feels a particular responsibility as a prominent member of Australia’s gay and lesbian community to make a public stand for young people who might be struggling with their sexuality.
‘‘I often think about ... how important it is that political leaders and all of us at Mardi Gras do stand up and say ‘we’re proud of who we are’.
''Because we’re also saying to them, 'we’re proud of who you are'.''
Senator Wong has no plans for partying, however.
After a gruelling week of Senate estimates hearings in Canberra, she will be spending her Sydney weekend with partner Sophie Allouache and their daughter.
Senator Wong’s march comes after the Labor caucus this week ticked off on Ms Plibersek’s plan to bring forward a marriage equality bill in this Parliament, on the condition that Coalition MPs are granted a free vote.