FAIR SQUIRT
Was it just us boys from the bush, or did the ANZ Bank’s complimentary sunscreen squeezies at Fair Day really look like mislabelled deposits to another bank of the IVF variety?
— Andrew
HAPPY CYCLISTS
New Mardi Gras has asked Sydney Spokes, the gay and lesbian cycling club, to provide volunteers for secure bicycle parking at Fair Day for a number of years now and we have always been happy to do so.
Sydney Spokes would like to clarify the donation made is not revenue-raising for NMG as last week’s letter-writer suggests, rather an opportunity afforded to us — a not-for-profit community sporting organisation — for fundraising in return for us making a contribution to our community and the success of Fair Day.
We did ask for a gold coin donation but this was not a condition to park a bike. To our knowledge, no negative comments were received on the day. On the contrary, cyclists were more than happy to pay a nominal amount knowing their bike was under a watchful eye at all times.
We welcome all cyclists to join us for our next ride.
— Kristofer and Gina,
Co-presidents, Sydney Spokes
NUDE CASH
Did Spencer Tunick charge a fee for his nude shoot at the Opera House? For someone who inspires thousands to shed their clothes, it would be unethical if his work were for commercial gain. The human body simply has no price.
— Stuart
NOT GAY ENOUGH
New Mardi Gras [NMG] has reached a new nadir. CEO, Michael Rolik, is defending the indefensible and is clearly not applying its parade entry rules with equity (SSO 1010).
Outlawing some obviously GLBTI-simpatico groups while allowing ANZ and Foxtel, spruiked as “major sponsors”, and NSW Government-linked groups like Star City, NSW Labor Party, State Transit, State Emergency Services, NSW Fire Brigades, NSW Police Force and Taronga Zoo smacks of political prostitution: taking the money and compromising principles.
Some of these government departments apparently “support diversity”; a piece of weasel-worded nihilism. Events NSW, itself a government department, has formed an unhealthy symbiosis with NMG, I suggest.
I was within the parade barriers and interviewed a large number of float participants from these groups: none said they were gay, although it is likely some others were.
Meanwhile, heavy-handed officialdom tried to ban Community Action Against Homophobia float placards supporting the non-coporatisation of the event and Animal Liberation rights supporting gay marriage were threatened with expulsion. According to the tape I made of the face-off: “I am operational … you will be asked to leave. You won’t be allowed to participate,” they were told rudely.
No further action was taken. The placards proceeded.
Worst of all, Blackshirts now parade alongside Federal Police, a calculated insult to all GLBTI members. Black shirts were used by Hitler’s Shtuzstaffel, or Symbolic Shield Squadron, during WWII and much-feared, especially by Jews and gays arrested and taken to concentration camps never to be seen again. Use of black shirts for any official is now banned in Germany.
One elderly Jewish man in a wheelchair at the parade looked visibly frightened and told  me “this is the beginning of the end of the parade”.
So what does NMG really stand for? No More Gays?
— Andrew
WRONG CHOICE?
Is it OK to question New Mardi Gras’ choice of Virgin Airlines as a sponsor this year?
In 2009 I flew to Brisbane and their in-flight entertainment had a comedy routine about bending over in the shower to pick up the soap.
The Virgin person I complained to was most reluctant to take the matter seriously; she sounded as if she’d had to look up the word ‘homophobic’ in the dictionary.
Yes, even gay commentators say maybe we are thin-skinned about a sense of humour, that Australians just want to have a laugh and a good time; but it sounds like we do to the national culture what women do in a straight relationship: keep them happy and numb.
I want to know what process our elected reps take prospective companies through to establish bona fides, or are we just grateful for anything?
By the way, thank you for the un-glossy pages — someone cares for the planet.
— Anton
MORE LOOS
Either install more port-a-loos in the marshalling area or let participants out to find a toilet somewhere else. The participants spend more than three hours waiting for their turn to march up the street and make the parade a success. Don’t try and save money at the expense of their comfort and hygiene.
— Bradford
TELECAST CLICHE
Before anyone accuses me of being a griping old fart, I should say I’m one of the few who still believes there could be magic and relevance in the Mardi Gras parade, and the telecast of it could promote greater understanding of our community.
After the excruciatingly embarrassing and vacuous telecasts of the past I hoped that this year’s might finally have got it right. Alas, once again it was not to be.
The cameras were so badly placed it seemed the few “real floats” were in a hurry to get by — it was as though they were running a gauntlet through Taylor Square trying to avoid the cameras.
A few fleeting seconds “in close” was as much as we got before the camera panned out so far all detail was lost and then, unfathomably, we were swept up into an aerial view which more resembled one of the nightly shots from the Channel 10 traffic helicopter.
It was then back to interminable groups and streams of marchers doing nothing in particular, with huge gaps in the parade while the audio mix neither favoured what was going on in the parade itself, or the commentary. Instead it was a kind of sound mix, which was frustrating to listen to,
One regular cross was to Molly Meldrum, inexplicably on the first or second floor of a building on Oxford St (from which one could see the parade in the distance, passing down below). Molly gave some of the “in-depth interviews” he is famous for to some “icons” most of us have never heard of.
Mitzi Macintosh was the gal on the ground and as she was to catch up with what we missed on the main cams, she had plenty of scope but a ration on the expletives would have been a little less grating and given less fodder to those who would like to think we are all not only irreverent but foul-mouthed as well.
Nova radio station refugee and commentator Ricki-Lee fared worse, dipping deep into the trite and corny barrel. One could only wonder why she was there at all?
At the end fellow commentator and ex-model Charlotte Dawson voice-overed that it was Ricki-Lee’s first year. We hardly needed to be told.
If there was a need to engage more commentators than Julie, Bob and Mitzi, (OK, throw in Molly too) is there none among our own ranks pretty or engaging enough?
Commentators Julie McCrossin and Bob Downe were the best of the lot considering the haphazard, chaotic and uncoordinated goings-on all around them. One could only wonder, as the professionals that they are, if they were inwardly screaming at the lack of structure and real direction?  They did their best and it wasn’t their fault.
All else aside, things that were conspicuous by their absence (as far as the camera was concerned) was the screaming lack of political and social satire which has so characterised past parades. I’m not saying it wasn’t in the parade (in fact, sadly I know it was) but whatever there was certainly seemed to have successfully evaded the cameras.
One of the very few “extravaganza costumes” we were allowed to see all too fleetingly was a beautifully feathered “showgirl” from Thailand.  Any individual costume that looked interesting was shown almost exclusively from behind, or at best, side-on for two seconds before they passed from view.
It is great to see the Arena Channel picking up the event, but one can only wonder why is it that in this country where we are well practised at screening all types of sporting events, the ability to cover a MG parade properly, after all these years, still escapes us?
— Daniel
WRONG IDEA
Freedom 2 b[e] marched for the fourth time in this year’s parade. The parade is an opportunity to counteract misconceptions that still exist in some religious circles. This year our theme was “Freedom 2 b[e] Celebrates Ex-gay Survivors”.
Ex-gay survivors are people, from religious backgrounds, who once believed their same-sex orientation was evil, or a dysfunction and attempted becoming heterosexual through re-orientation/conversion therapies. Ex-gay survivors now live as openly proud gay men and lesbians. We celebrate their journeys to resolution and self-acceptance.
Our signs read “Ex-gay — No Way”, “Still Gay”, “Ex-Ex-Gay”, “Reconciled”, “Love has no Conditions”.
Unfortunately some people misunderstood why we were there. One member was aggressively abused in the marshalling area when a person read the words ‘ex-gay’ on our shirts. The Freedom 2 b[e] member was so shaken she nearly withdrew from the parade.
Having worked in this area for a decade now I know that behind that attack would have been a story as to why they reacted in such a hostile way. The person was projecting their anger needlessly on one of our marchers.
If they read the entire message on the shirt “Celebrates Ex-gay Survivors” … and if they had thought things through instead of just abusing, they would have realised there is no way Mardi Gras would let any anti-gay group into the parade.
I thought it was important to clarify in case there was anyone else who has misunderstood the mission of Freedom 2 b[e]. If in doubt read our website, www.freedom2b.org. We are doing all we can to deconstruct the “ex-gay” myth. The community’s support and encouragement is important to us.
— Anthony Venn-Brown, co-founder of Freedom 2 b[e]
MEMBER BENEFITS?
On Saturday night, along with thousands of people, I watched a great Mardi Gras parade. A job well done by the Parade Working Group, the volunteers and the float participants. This is what keeps me coming back each year.
However, the drawback of the evening was being in the BGF Glamstand New Mardi Gras member area.
I did not get the opportunity to purchase a VIP member area ticket to Taylor Square because they sold out so quickly, so when NMG announced there would be a member area within the BGF Glamstand I bought a ticket.
Yes, they said it was a standing area but any closer to the end of the parade and we would have seen nothing. But to be told by  a BGF volunteer that there was in fact no separate NMG member area was a big surprise, and then to find NMG members were in essence classed as general release standing is something entirely different.
NMG needs to rethink the member area for parade 2011.
— Gary
WHAT ABOUT US?
NSW Police Force, Australian Federal Police, Walkers for Medical Marijuana Now!, Legal Aid NSW/Inner City Legal Centre, NSW Fire Brigades, NSW State Emergency Service, NSW Rural Fire Service, Family Planning NSW, Black Dog Institute (headed by Jeff Kennett who confuses homosexuality with pedophilia), NSW Women’s Refuge Movement, State Transit Authority, Kirketon Road Centre, Railcorp, Climate Action Newtown & Friends, Taronga Zoo, ANZ, Virgin Blue and Foxtel may be “gay-friendly” organisations and businesses, but they do not contribute to gay lifestyle and culture.
Why were they represented in the Mardi Gras parade? Has Mardi Gras lost the plot or have I lost the point?
— Ron
POOR FORM
I’m writing after being stunned while watching the Mardi Gras coverage on Channel 10 news at 5pm on Sunday night.
Immediately following what appeared to be a rather balanced and positive report on the parade the coverage went to footage of Dennis Ferguson, convicted pedophile, with the reporter claiming he was trying to get into the parade marshalling area.
Again the need to make that disgusting, unfair link between the gay community and pedophiles, on prime-time television.
Perhaps it’s time to flex some pink muscle and boycott Channel 10. I certainly won’t be tuning in ever again.
— Mark
NARROW SCHEME
The relationship register being proposed in NSW will be the worst of its kind in Australia.
According to the NSW Government, the proposed scheme will not recognise diverse relationships, despite the fact that the schemes in Tasmania and Victoria do.
Nor will the NSW proposal allow for official ceremonies like the schemes in the ACT and Tasmania.
The NSW Government also says its scheme will only recognise existing de facto couples and will not be a ‘civil union’ scheme. This is also at odds with what happens in Tasmania, Victoria and the ACT where couples enter into new legal relationships in a way more akin to marrying partners.
In all, the NSW Government’s proposal is nothing like the schemes which already exist in other states and territories because it provides a narrower range of couples with far less recognition.
We urge the NSW Government to build on what has already been achieved in other states rather than settling for the lowest common denominator.
— Wayne Morgan, ANU College of Law and Rodney Croome, Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group
THE SPEEDOS
On what does your columnist, Doug Pollard base his claim that the election of Tony Abbott as prime minister “might not be a complete disaster for the GLBT community” (SSO 1010) when homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of his God and the use of condoms to combat AIDS is disapproved of by his infallible pope?
Oh right, the Speedos..!
— Jack
AGED CARE CRISIS
It seems the US government can grant SAGE, that country’s oldest and largest GLBT aged care advocacy organisation, $900 million to establish a National Centre for Information on GLBT Ageing, in partnership with several organisations across the country, but here we have yet to see one lousy dollar go to any organisation, gay or not, to work with GLBTI elders.
We have a federal government nearing its first term of office, yet still it has chosen not to recognise that GLBTI elders are the most seriously neglected, invisible and afraid in our aged care system, and do something as a matter of urgency.
One wonders how long it will take before our PM makes an announcement similar to President Obama and Secretary Sibelius about GLBT aged care.
As people continue to live in hiding in nursing homes, go back into the closet when home carers are coming around, and threaten suicide rather than have to rely on homophobic staff in institutions, we continue to claim that gay marriage is the issue of the day. Not for me and not for elders in nursing homes.
I live in hope that our federal government will finally recognise our elders for the special needs group that they are, and support our organisations to provide advocacy and meet needs as a matter of urgency. We have no time to waste; ACT-UP showed us what to do in such a crisis.
— Dr Jo Harrison
HEAVENLY DANCE
I haven’t been to a function for 10 years, and I was so impressed by it [Heaven dance].
I have been around the gay scene for many years and what I saw at Northmead really touched my heart.
In the scene it is very rare that a group or function caters for all types. I saw old, young, large and small enjoying each other’s company without reservation. Everyone respected the other and even chatted. One thing that surprised me was that if you are on your own or even in a group, people said hello.
These days when one goes to Oxford St, if they look a little different or are on their own they get ignored. Your group is the opposite. They are happy to chat. It’s the most welcoming feeling and everyone has fun.
Beverly is a wonderful host and is accommodating to everyone. I knew Beverly years ago and it’s nice that she has such a great memory.
Please keep the group going because it would be a shame to lose it.
If there is any way I can help out, please let me know.
­— Glenn

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