GRETEL Killeen believes a number of profound movements have been made towards LGBTI acceptance and equality since she first went to Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

“The first Mardi Gras I went to was on Oxford Street in 1981, and the changes since then have been so important,” she told the Star Observer.

“I’m really proud of the progress that’s been made for the whole community, from the heart, and I’ve seen the strengthening of the community.

“But all of our visual history is deteriorating as we speak, because time damages.”

In an effort to preserve Mardi Gras’ history in Sydney, community groups will lip-sync for their lives this weekend in Lip-Sync Duels, with the money raised at the event going towards the archiving of the city’s LGBTI history.

Now in its second year, Lip-Sync Duels sees contestants representing different community organisations to battle it out to help raise money for Mardi Gras, with the winner also receiving a fundraising pack worth over $4,000 dollars for their chosen charity.

This year’s event will be hosted by Killeen and popular Sydney entertainer Charisma Belle.

Killeen said it’s important for community organisations to come together in support of their shared history.

“It’s special, isn’t it? It’s everybody’s story so it makes sense for everyone to come together for the night,” she said.

“But even though we’re all together in the one room with one cause, everyone still wants their person to win, so the commitment is extraordinary.”

Belle agreed, and said that by raising money to preserve and archive the community’s history, younger queer people will be able to learn and appreciate the past as well.

“I think it’s important for young kids to know how we got to the point we’re at today,” she said.

“They often don’t realise those hardships, and they have it quite easy in comparison.

“I’m a firm believer that we don’t have enough community events… we have hundreds of parties but you don’t get to connect with people so something like this is great because it’s taking people out of the nightclub and bringing them together.”

Some of the contestants this year include City Bears president Robb Barwick, Queer Screen President Giovanni Campolo-Arcidiaco, and 7.30 report journalist Monique Shafter.

Lip-Sync Duels director Steph Sands highlighted how large the LGBTI community is, and how important it is to work together.

“Personally for me I believe we are all one big community, and we need to help each other in whatever way we can,” she said.

“We need to make sure that the messages we create and the history we record remain lour and proud and strong.

“I’m lucky in that I know what shows all the contestants are pulling together and I can honestly say that without exception I’m looking forward to seeing all of the contestants do their chosen song.”

For those who won’t be attending but with to contribute to the fundraising goals, Mardi Gras has launched an online auction of nearly 30 items including two tickets to the ultra-exclusive Lord Mayor’s NYE party.

Killeen, who hosted last year as well, said she loves it when the contestants shed their inhibitions on stage.

“It’s great when people get up that you wouldn’t think would, and even if they aren’t particularly talented, they rock it,” she said.

“The enthusiasm is heart-warming, because people are willing to make a goose of themselves, even though nobody thinks you’re a goose.”

Lip-Sync Duels is on this Saturday at Paddington Town Hall from 6.30pm. Mardi Gras is offering a waitlist for those desperate to get into the event as some last minute tickets may become available.

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