Feeling excluded
As a 38-year-old gay man with HIV I am writing to ask for your help in raising issues with the way Mardi Gras is run for us as HIV+ people.

Mardi Gras comes around and we are bombarded with all the great things that are on. For those of us who rely totally on the DSP we are unable to attend any events because they are too dear for us.

Most of would love to attend some of the things on at this special time of the year. We are flat out getting to the parade, let alone attending any events.

I have discussed with HIV+ friends and we are in agreement that it wouldn’t take much for New Mardi Gras to offer free or even discounted seats to these events. They run for the whole period of Mardi Gras and we are just asking for us to be offered a way to attend.

It seems that everyone is willing to offer support to events to raise funds for organisations such as ACON, BGF, the Luncheon Club but when it comes to us being supported in a way that would benefit our lives they don’t give a stuff.

Giving, supportive community? Yeah, right?

We are all struggling with different things in our lives and I feel it only justified that New Mardi Gras be more receptive to us during this special time.

I sent New Mardi Gras an email telling them this is being discussed by the HIV+ community. I was informed that this would be the perfect time to to try and convince them to do something so they have enough time to implement and to take into account these thoughts.

We have all paid our dues to the community over the years and we all feel we are being excluded from our party and the one time of the year we get to  celebrate with our friends and the gay community.

The positive community hopes you will address this issue to help us access the Sydney Mardi Gras.

-” Jay

FLOP PREDICTED

What a disgrace in splitting the events [Mardi Gras parade and party].

How do you plan to accommodate an additional 20,000 people wanting to party after the parade -” the day you could proudly walk down the street to Fox Studios, after sharing the gayest parade in the world with all sorts of friends?

Prediction: total flop.

-” Taylor

VISITORS WON’T COME

Mardi Gras keep telling us about the millions of dollars which are spent by interstate visitors, many of whom only come for Mardi Gras weekend.

They will be left with the choice of which weekend to come but without a party and a parade, many of them probably won’t bother coming at all.

Why didn’t Mardi Gras consult with the community about this one?  Or do they know what’s best for all of us now?

-” Tim

STUPID IDEA

With shock have I just read an email from New Mardi Gras announcing a significant change to the festival in 2010 that includes stripping apart the parade and the party to be scheduled on two separate weekends.
Are those guys completely out of their mind?

Tearing the parade and the party apart will be financial suicide! Do they seriously expect that some book readings in Enmore or art exhibitions in Surry Hills will be enough to keep tourists from elsewhere in Australia or even from overseas in Sydney for a whole week after the parade just to get the chance to participate in a lame party which has always been and always will be completely overpriced?
Being initially an international tourist to Australia myself, I can assure you visitors from overseas come especially for the parade which indeed is unique, and not for the party which you can get in a more or less similar format anywhere in the world.
The only reason anyone goes to the party is that it’s right on Mardi Gras night and the organisers have been successfully communicating for years that the Mardi Gras experience is not complete without doing the party.
Nothing is more insane from a commercial standpoint than ripping these two events apart. I would have assumed this should be clear to them but obviously it isn’t.
I hope they spare us the whinging afterwards if they go bankrupt once again as a result of this disastrous decision -” it is pretty clear from the outset this is a very stupid idea!
-” Soren

GAY ASIAN MEN
On behalf of the Asian Marching Boy’s steering committee, we’d like to let the community know what we’re up to.

After taking a rest from the full-on (but heaps of fun!) Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras parades earlier this year, we’re starting to make plans for the second half of 2009 and beyond.

Mardi Gras 2010 is really only just around the corner, and we’re really excited to get working on its theme, -˜History around the world’.

To Andrew (SSO 970) -” it’s great to know we weren’t the only ones missing our spectacular events. But with big losses to our steering committee in 2008, we thought it would be best to focus our time and effort into what turned out to be a hugely successful and fabulous Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras parade.

We’d like to give a huge holler out to the wonderful community out there that’s been supporting us, and a super special mega-thanks to all our marchers.

We hope to see you all at our events later this year as we continue to celebrate the gay Asian men’s community.

If you’d like to get involved contact us through our website, asianmarchingboys.org

-” The Asian Marching Boys

IDAHO THANKS

A big thank you from Community Action Against Homophobia goes to all those who attended or helped out on the day or promoted this event.

Here are some photos of last Sunday’s IDAHO rally. Check them out at http://www.caah.org/photogallery/frame_page0au.htm. Click on the thumbnails to access the picture.

If anyone has any photos of the rally, send them to smargan@bigpond.net.au and I will put them on the CAAH website as well.

-” Ben

NOT SO GAY-FRIENDLY

I’ve been campaigning to aid Clover Moore’s Animal Regulation of Sale Bill, and get an inquiry into the pet industry.

I contacted my local state Labor MP for Heffron, Kristina Keneally, and was told that Labor does not support this bill.

During my investigations, I discovered an alarming fact. Kristina Keneally, in my opinion, is actually not too supportive of the gay community.

Ms Keneally, is a conservative religious American Christian, having earned all her -˜qualifications’ at Christian institutions, well-known for their anti-gay and anti-abortion stances, such as Marianist University of Dayton, USA.

Ms Keneally narrowly won a bitter Labor preselection battle against Deirdre Grusovin in 2003.

While party members toe the party line on some issues, such as gay issues, and remain silent on their disapproval, should an American religious type progress to the higher ranks of a political party that’s supposed to be gay-friendly, it could ultimately spell disaster for us.

Heffron has a large gay and lesbian population.

The next election may be a few years away, but you should look at the candidate your preferred party has preselected before voting rather than voting along party lines.
In some cases, by voting Labor you may end up getting someone who’s worse than Family First.

-” Timmy

FINE-TUNING

So the Federal Government is going to recognise our relationship defined by two toothbrushes in the same cup. The picture needs a little fine-tuning for our household.

We need three more brushes in our cup, appropriately logoed Pooh Bear, Spider-man and Dora the Explorer, for our three foster children. With the wonderful support of a foster care agency, our family grew some years ago and we are now looking at applying to adopt to provide the security and permanency we all desire.

Since the children have been placed with us, one of us has been receiving a family tax allowance commonly know as family tax benefit A and B from the Federal Government. We understand that, come July, Centrelink will recognise both our incomes and make, I presume, reductions to the family tax benefit.

This we accept but where is the equality when the state Government will not acknowledge us as a couple, as parents and allow both of us to apply for the adoption of the children we both love and care for.

Take our money under the guise of equality but don’t give equality where it counts in our home by acknowledging we are parents.

I am also concerned about how the Government is getting this message to other homosexuals who may be in our situation. We don’t live in the city and rarely get the gay papers hence we only found out about the changes by chance. If we hadn’t, then I presume we would be liable for a hefty back payment to Centrelink.

-” Nathan

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