Mardi Gras today launched a new name, logo and community-wide proposition aimed at reinvigorating the 33-year-old event and present it as a city-wide celebration of the power and the beauty of diversity.

In a parallel move, the organisation has changed its name back to Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras after almost 10 years as New Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras chairman Pete Urmson said the move to the old moniker is in recognition that the event and brand remains owned by the city’s gay and lesbian community as it endeavours to broaden its appeal.

“The Sydney Mardi Gras will always have its thumping gay heart that celebrates the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer communities, but Mardi Gras is now inviting those who share our positive message about the power and beauty of diversity to be part of our celebration,” Urmson said.

“We would love to see people who share our values, but who never thought they would be in the Parade, to approach us and share their ideas. There will always be room for a great float which will both entertain and bring people together.

“Our hope with this change is to turn Sydney Mardi Gras into an even bigger civic event – right up there with Rio and the world’s other great carnivals – to be enjoyed by everyone, but always remembered as being a gift to the city from its gay and lesbian community and a demonstration of our pride.”

As well as a return to the old name, the organisation has also launched a new season logo developed in conjunction with partner advertising agency Moon Communications Group.

Moon creative director Greg Logan said the logo speaks to Mardi Gras’ desire to inspire the world to love each other by celebrating the power and beauty of diversity.

“The logo is a universal symbol that connects with everyone in a different way,” he said.

“It symbolises all types of genders coming together and does not discriminate. Its symmetry indicates equality and people coming together to celebrate love.”

OPINION: Where to now for Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras also announced a string of events and performers that will form the core of the 2012 festival, which runs February 12 – March 4, including RuPaul, D.E. Experience, Trevor Ashley and Sneaky Sound System.

This year’s Mardi Gras Festival boasts over 60 special events including iconic event favourites like the Parade, Fair Day and Harbour party.

One of the Mardi Gras Party headliners will be global drag superstar RuPaul, who has been immortalised not only in a wax portrait at Madame Tussaud’s Museum in Times Square, but also in several feature film roles and television shows.

Also appearing at the Party will be top UK performer Jonathan Hellyer, who will take us from the sublime to the ridiculous with his vastly popular cabaret act D.E. Experience.

Aussie dance music ensemble Sneaky Sound System promise a throbbing DJ set, with Miss Connie providing live vocals.

Partygoers can also expect performances from DJ Lady Miss Kier from iconic ’90s dance group Deee-Lite – think Groove Is In The Heart – as well as internationally acclaimed Londoners Horse Meat Disco.

The Australian premiere of Broadway hit The Temperamentals promises an intelligent, sexy and entertaining mix of politics, camp humour and emotional candour. Playwright Jon Marans tells the tale of two men who fell in love while forming America’s first gay rights organisation. This is a fascinating exploration of pre-Stonewall gay activism, in the early ’50s in the US, when ‘temperamental’ was a code for ‘homosexual’.

Fresh from his role as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray The Musical, Trevor Ashley turns his formidable talent to channelling the one and only Dame Shirley Bassey, in the spectacular two-act show Diamonds are for Trevor.

The world’s greatest exponents of cabaret, new burlesque, circus sideshow and vaudeville will transform the Sydney Opera House Studio into a lush salon, as the stars of La Clique dish up pure old-fashioned showmanship in the not-to-bemissed La Soirée.

A sell-out smash at the Adelaide Festival, Britney Spears: The Cabaret pays tribute to the car-crash-slash-pop-princess extraordinaire. Not so much a cabaret as a cry for help, the critically acclaimed show takes a satirical look at the perils of fame, with La Spears’ hits transformed into cabaret, seamlessly telling the tragic/comic tale of her life.

Cheesy serenades and camp camaraderie abound in Bob Downe’s Retro-gras Tea Dance, as Australia’s very own Clown Prince of Polyester is joined onstage by a range of special guests, for a hilarious Sunday afternoon of retro dancing, upstairs at the Beresford Hotel.

Queer Thinking speakers this year will include Professor Sara Ahmed from Goldsmith’s University of London, artist Gary Carsley and queer Muslim lawyer and social justice activist Alyena Mohummadally.

Hats Off! will return to showcase a star line-up of Australian musical theatre, comedy, dance and cabaret performers, all donating their time and talent to raise funds for HIV-related charities.

The Mardi Gras Festival Bar will return to the Oxford Hotel with a packed program of performers, big name DJs, comedy and some of our favourite community events – including Mega Furry Friday, when the Bears take over all four floors; Mega Buzz; Swagger; Hot Rod; Dog Tag; and Burlesque – plus Underground with Sydney Leather Pride.

The Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival will also return, there will be a visual arts program, the Team Sydney sports festival and a range of events for young people including a Queer Prom to celebrate Twenty10’s 30th birthday.

INFO: To view the full program for the Mardi Gras Festival 2012, go to www.mardigras.org.au/events

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