People who can read the shorthand in gay men’s personal ads will be familiar with the acronym GAM. The short version of Gay Asian Man has been in common usage for long enough to raise few eyebrows any more.

In the great March tradition of turning stereotypes on their heads, the Asian Marching Boys have adopted the shorthand as the title of this year’s Mardi Gras parade entry, with a slight difference.

It stands for Gay Australian Men, parade entry organiser Matthew Hua says.

The point is that we’re first and foremost Australian.

To bring the point home, the marching group will be wearing traditionally skimpy costumes made out of Australian flags.

The entry is all about increasing the visibility of Asian men in the gay community and raising the self esteem of Asian men, Hua says.

There is the added bonus of raising awareness among the marchers’ own families. This has happened this year with the organisers of the Chinese New Year Festival Parade approaching the Asian Marching Boys for the first time to take part in the Year of the Goat celebrations.

They called and asked us, which was wonderful -“ years ago they didn’t want us to be in it, Hua says.

Of course, there are elements of fabulousness as well. The Asian Marching Boys have won the best choreography award for the past two years, and they want to make it three in a row in 2003.

The group have enlisted Sydney-based choreographer Saha Salim, who is putting the marching boys through their paces in the lead-up to the big event.

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