VALUE DIFFERENCE
To paraphrase your columnist (Sceptical Observer, SSO 1011), every time I read an ill-conceived comment on gay culture, “I reach for my (metaphorical) revolver”.
“I reached for my revolver” when I read his lament about the perceived lack of representation of people like him in the Mardi Gras parade.
Well, Doug, the reason why people like you are not represented in the parade and this aspect of Sydney gay culture, is because people like you don’t participate in it. If you don’t want to get involved then don’t snipe from the safety of the sidelines. It’s a gay behavioural cliché that’s neither attractive nor helpful.
“I reached for my revolver again” when I read his criticisms of drag. I’m sorry to disappoint you, Doug, but your comments are neither daring nor new, but are as much an “historic relic of the days when we had to be hidden or in disguise”, as you believe drag queens themselves to be.
Back in the days of the Stonewall riots and the burgeoning gay-rights movement drag queens were criticised in exactly these terms. We were too visible. We didn’t represent the majority of gay people. We didn’t blend in with mainstream heterosexual society. We should try and look/behave like the rest of the community at large, because by looking and behaving like them, we were more likely to gain their tolerance/ acceptance.
And yet there we were in all of our embarrassing (to people like you) difference and gaudiness, speaking up for, and representing all people in our community (even the ones like you, who choose to remain invisible/normal). And so we still do.
The only thing new in your comments is their apparent ‘new conservatism’. A gay ‘neo-con’, if you will.
Doug also seems to be unaware of a glaring contradiction that undermines his argument/ opinion. He simultaneously complains that drag queens are too visible, and yet are somehow trying to hide. You can’t have it both ways, Doug.
He unfairly paints a picture of a drag queen hiding behind the “slap” in order to say the things she wants to say, before slinking back to her ordinary life. This may be true for this individual, but I would argue that the mask acts as an amplifier — not as a camouflage.
I’ve never in my life heard of any drag queen who wants to be “hidden”. It’s an ontological contradiction in terms.
And as far as “hiding” is concerned… Who, I ask you is the more guilty? A drag queen speaking directly to the public “hiding” behind make-up, or an occasional columnist, who hides behind a laptop, and the distance of print?
No one is saying that one has to like every entertainment artform. I personally don’t like musical theatre (which, I realise makes me a bit of an anathema in the drag world), but unlike you, I don’t trash musical theatre artists, questioning their relevance and resigning them to the bin of historical anachronisms. I can appreciate their talent, skill and dedication to their artform without feeling the need to buy tickets.
To once more quote your columnist, “Let’s grow up, shall we”. Just because we’re homosexual, doesn’t make us homogenous. We’re fighting to be allowed to be who we are — in all our multiplicity — not who some people think we ought to be.
Does that mean that sometimes there will be images in our community that don’t represent us? Absolutely! But if we can’t accept our own differences, then it’s disingenuous of us to demand that the broader community accept us for ours.
If I may take an ornithological metaphor: drag queens are like parrots. They’re flashy, gaudy, raucous and entertaining. Are they representative of all the birds in the world? No. Are they sometimes annoying? Yes. But the skies would be a much more boring place without them.
— Verushka Darling
THANKS, ZOMBIES
Out of the crypts and onto the streets!
Thank you to all the zombies and supporters who appeared in this year’s Mardi Gras Parade in the Michael Jackson Thriller Zombie marching group.
Thank you to Mardi Gras (especially Kathy Pavlich) for your technical and financial support, to Madame Lash (Queen  of the Dead) for the use of the Kirk for rehearsals and dressing and coming on board at short notice, to Gordon for the hearse and his amazing engineering and driving, to the four spunky boy coffin-carrying zombies, to Kayleen our choreographer, to 3 Arts Make Up, to all the queer celebrities zombies; Anna Nicole Smith, Frida Kahlo, Joey Stefano, Freddie Mercury, Rita Hayworth, James Dean, Michael Jackson, Betty Page, Andy Warhol, Nana Mouskouri, Devine Zombie, Liberace and members of the Mickey Mouse Zombie Fan Club for rising from the dead to celebrate our parody of celebrity death cults.
— Gareth
NO RELIEF
I’d really like to know which Mardi Gras official thought five portaloos were enough for the thousands of parade participants assembled in Wentworth Ave before the start of the parade.
I queued for over an hour with lots of other very angry people all bemused by the sheer stupidity of such a massive underestimation for providing an essential and basic service.
By the time I finally reached the toilets, I could see that some of them had started to overflow, piss running down the streets to where people were forced to stand in it as they waited in line. Others gave up and urinated against the sides of buildings, girls were forced to squat under trucks. By 9pm the area where I was assembled was rank with the smell of piss.
And to the rude, arrogant upstart so clearly bereft of manners, a ‘Parade Official’ T-shirt does not give you the right to push in front of all those waiting patiently in line for their turn. I hope the chorus of jeers and boos was sufficiently humiliating for you.
— Luke
PARKING WOES
I participated in the Spencer Tunick Photo installation at the Opera House.
It was an enjoyable and well-organised event. Everything went smoothly, until time came to leave.
Wilson Parking, in their wisdom, knowing everyone would want to leave at the same time decided to close all but one of the pre-pay machines and only put one cashier on duty.
There was a very long line of people trying to pay the exorbitant $16 for their parking, taking at least one hour, if not longer.
Wilson Parking was well aware what the program was and should have put on extra staff if the machines could not take the money for ‘early bird’ parking.
When I phoned the centre management they said that there was nothing that could be done and I should speak to head office.
When I called head office there was only a voicemail.
If Wilson Parking cannot manage the car park at Australia’s number one venue properly they should not have the rights to do so.
From my calculations Wilson Car Parking would have made at least $12,000 from the whole exercise.
Wilson Parking should make a public apology to all people who were inconvenienced by their inefficiency.
If it is not possible to refund the money paid for the disservice, they should at least make some donation to a charity or Mardi Gras.
— Jeremy
ACCEPTANCE
I have no doubt that as always there will be things that people will be both happy about and angry about this year’s Mardi Gras festival.
However, I write to you to express my sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude to the New Mardi Gras committee for organising the Spencer Tunick shoot at the Opera House. My partner and I went to the photo shoot simply for the pleasure of getting naked legally at such an iconic location.
What we got was much more — not only acceptance of each other as simply being human beings, but acceptance of my/our right to be different, our right to love and our right to be happy doing so.
My partner and I stood naked on the steps of the Opera House in broad daylight in a passionate embrace with total acceptance by those 5200 other people around us.
If New Mardi Gras never do another thing for me ever again, I will be eternally grateful for this incredible experience.
— Steve
HYDE PARK MADNESS
So much for the police moving the start area of Mardi Gras to Whitlam Square from Elizabeth St to supposedly keep Hyde Park clear of violence.
News reports of 45 arrests and two stabbings in Hyde Park as well as many complaints from the thousands who did end up in Hyde Park and then couldn’t see the parade make the whole exercise of moving the start area a joke! Not to mention the smell of burning truck clutches going up steep Commonwealth St and rolling back, causing safety problems.
Bring back the logical start area and address violence! Trying to keep Hyde Park out of it was a waste of time and smacks of push the gays back up into Oxford St and out of the city.
— Stella
DISGRACE
I was tempted not to comment on last week’s Mardi Gras parade and I have resisted for four whole days.
The parade was a disgrace. I felt so ashamed this was the best Sydney could do on a night the world was watching and ashamed also BGF charged $140, marketed mainly to Atlantis tourists, for what they called the Glamstand.
On behalf of Sydney I apologise to the US tourists who feel ripped off and who believed and were reasonably entitled to expect a reserved area that was comfortable, provided access for refreshments and was constructed with adequately wide walkways.
Mardi Gras was criticised within these pages for banning the Animal Liberation float but allowing a commercial entry from the ANZ bank. This in hindsight was probably one of the wisest decisions made by the Mardi Gras board and I commend them for it. What the parade did not need was another walking group of activists who exploit the Mardi Gras parade to promote their own selfish political agenda. Well done and congratulations to ANZ, George Michaels, Life Savers and Egyptians who provided music, colour and movement in what was otherwise a spectacle of mindless mediocrity.
— Paul
NUDE IRONY
It’s an irony that many gay rights groups and lefty organisations oppose nudity, while conservatives and the religious right create a Garden of Eden where everyone gets to run around nude.
— Stuart
Legal Support
After spotting Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC) in the Mardi Gras parade Ron (Letters 1011) wondered why we were there, suggesting that we do not directly support gay-lesbian culture.
In fact, ICLC is the specialist legal centre for anyone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, or intersex in New South Wales and as such is dedicated to promoting the rights of the LGBTI community.
Although we do provide general legal services to the inner city we actively provide legal advice, education and some representation for the LGBTI community all over New South Wales.
The wide range of legal issues we cover for the gay and lesbian  community includes family law, discrimination, employment law, domestic violence, gay vilification, wills and disputes with government.
And from time to time you’ll see articles from us in the Star advising on issues relevant to the community.
— Daniel Stubbs, coordinator, Inner City Legal Centre
Greens-bashing
Rather than complain about NMG and its shortcomings (a problem that cannot be outlined in 250 words or less), let’s discuss same-sex marriage equality and ‘Greens marriage sell-out’ (SSO, 1011).
I am certainly shocked to read they limited debate in Parliament and as a member of the Greens will be taking this up with the National Greens. What I do find odd, is that out of everything in the article — absent and embarrassed ALP senators, conservative Liberals and the irrepressible Steven ‘Bloody’ Fielding — it led off with a big ol’ Greens-bashing.
Why not mention that in the vote five senators, all Greens, voted for it. Why not headline with ‘Pratt’s platitudes — MIA on equality’. Apparently the ALP is too embarrassed to speak for equality on the community’s behalf. Thank heavens we elect Tanya and Anthony and Pratt to represent minorities in Parliament. What a bang-up job they do. When is the gay and lesbian community going to wake up to Labor’s carrot-on-a-stick policy in regards to equality?
As it stands, the Greens are the only party who are openly committed to equality for the LGBT community. The Greens are the only party who vote in Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage. The Greens are the only party to even draft a bill in Parliament on same-sex marriage.
Rather than having people chastise the Greens for agreeing to a time constraint on an issue that they and no one else voted for, perhaps, as a paper representing the issues of the LGBTIQ community, you might try having a go at the ALP or the Liberals who do not support equal rights nearly as much as they say they do.
— James
WAKE UP
I arrived in Sydney on the Volendam. The cruise was styled ‘Mardi Gras’ and travelled from Auckland to Sydney, via stopovers in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Melbourne.
The ship passengers were all gay. It carried some 1300 American guys, around 12 lesbians and something like 100 Aussies and New Zealanders.
Aboard ship, we were told by the cruise director that it didn’t matter where you sat in the Glamstands, as they were only five or six rows deep. This information was ostensibly sourced from the MG committee, as it is not something that one might make up.
The reality was that some of our American friends were seated so far back (in row U and further) that they had no hope of seeing the parade, let alone taking flash pictures to show at home.
I’m told that beers in the stand cost $7 a glass, and that a small bowl of pasta with tomato sauce cost $10. Outrageous!
All of our American friends to whom I spoke could only stay until Wednesday, March 3 and so missed out on the party. They seemed to be under the impression that the Harbour party was the same as the old post-parade party.
We all slept on the ship after the parade and the feedback I got from all the Americans to whom I spoke was not good. In fact, it was positively scathing.
Guys! Ripping off your own community and the international gay community is not the way to promote return business. Quite the opposite.
If the MG committee keeps up these low standards, the whole event will fall down around their heels. Wake up, MG! See the writing on the wall!
— Ronnie
CONFUSED
Please tell me your outrageous attack on the fine efforts by the Greens to amend the laws in Australia was an early April fool joke. If that was the case, it’s not funny.Have you lost your mind?
The Greens have for years been banging away to improve the laws for the gay and lesbian community and are our only hope in Canberra while getting stabbed in the back by your newspaper. Shame on you.
— Margaret
MISLEADING

To put the headline ‘Deal slashes debate time: Greens marriage sell-out’ was as misleading to your readers as it was mean-spirited. The Marriage Equality Bill is a bill which was introduced and promoted by the Greens, not the Labor Party or the Coalition.
The Greens have only had two opportunities for private senator’s time in this Parliament so they should be commended for putting LGBTI issues on the top of the agenda. It is actually quite an achievement that the Greens were able to get a vote on this issue, one that clearly embarrasses Labor and Liberals alike.
Moving for a shorter debating time was an attempt to get a vote through before the Australian Christian Lobby could mobilise and lobby for its defeat. Does Andrew M. Potts actually want us to believe that Family First senator Steve Fielding was going to champion the cause of equality for all Australians, gay and straight? He never has in the past.
The way your headline reads, it looked as if the Greens were trying to undermine our rights, rather than fight for them. In the end, the bill was defeated 45-5 (the five being the five Greens senators) with 26 senators absent.
Given the recent national survey where 61 percent of Australians support equal marriage rights it makes me wonder who in our Parliament is actually listening to what the Australian people want? Misleading headlines on the Star Observer’s part are not helpful. Who is the real enemy here?
— Adam

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