EXCELLENT MARDI GRAS
Congrats to Mardi Gras for an enjoyable festival and excellent parade. Being part of the parade can still bring a tear to my eye. As for the party, it’s back to its best.

As an unreformed, uninhibited sleaze man I thought it was great to have the return of a men’s playspace. A number of my friends were excited to get into some action. I also have it on good authority that our water sports enthusiasts had a good time, unhassled by over-anxious security in the toilets as experienced at the last couple of parties.

Keep up the good work everyone. I’ll be back for my 25th Mardi Gras next year. Best wishes to gay brothers and sisters everywhere.

-” Barry K Charles, via email
 

MARDI GRAS LEAD FLOAT
I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the heavenly workshop team, volunteers, and parade committee for the support and encouragement in conceptualising and designing Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras lead float 2002. It was an honour to be chosen for the task and a privilege to work with such wonderfully inspired and creative people.

A special thank you to Mark Barraket, Jess Deane, Jane Becker, Kathy Pavlich and Janet Carter for your support. Thanks to the traditional owners of the land for your sufferance.

My hope is that the 2002 lead float causes a laugh, some mischief, and some positive action for our community. The lead float was designed to challenge and to remind Australians of the incessant discrimination homosexuals face through irrelevant moral judgement. I confess to having had great fun putting it together and am completely fired up about the response the workshop artists, cast, crew and volunteers, the parade committee and Mardi Gras board have dedicated to making the concept come alive.

The message is clear, queers will demonstrate against all forms of discrimination. I hope that the float will spark dialogue in our diverse sub-cultures about community and individual spirituality and how to deal with belief systems in a world hostile to homosexuality. The message this parade will send out to the international community is that queer Australians are world leaders in the fight against discrimination. We do care about the plight of our brothers in repressed societies. We fight domestic and international discrimination at the highest levels. Many beyond our shores depend on us to achieve greater freedoms. The Australian queer community is a light to many where there is none.

For those who prefer to celebrate our community style, there is a bit of everything in this float: glitter, sequins, handbags and sex-toys. There are hats, gloves, costumes and wigs. I asked for the glamorous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who have fought tirelessly against religious intolerance to accompany the lead float. One major concept was to get a single clear message across and to this end the parade committee placed all the religion-based floats together to front the parade.

The message is stronger when we stand together against discrimination and vilification.

-” Colin Polwarth, lead float designer 2002, SGLMG

 

CREDIT WHEN DUE
In difficult times post-September 11 with ticket sales and sponsorship down and some expenses increasing substantially, Mardi Gras still managed to pull off a fantastic parade and put together another great party.

To those who expressed concern through the SSO about Mardi Gras’ ability to get through the 2002 festival I remind them that when eating crow it’s probably better swallowed warm.

Thanks to the Mardi Gras board, management, staff, parade entrants and all the volunteers for another great festival.

-” Mike LeClerc, Dulwich Hill

ILLAWARRA ALIVE AND WELL
Peter Bloem’s letter regarding ACON Illawarra shows the level of apprehension in any community faced with changes to services that are close to their heart. It is unfortunate that his letter was published several weeks after it was written and after ACON had commenced an extensive consultation process with the local community.

I can’t say it any more clearly, ACON is committed to maintaining an ongoing presence in the Illawarra and over the last few weeks we have been working to involve community members like Peter in the redesign of ACON services in the area. ACON Illawarra is relocating its services to a number of sites across Wollongong from the end of March. This is a temporary measure while we find a more appropriate location and work with the community to re-establish a new office in September providing services that better meet the needs of our clients and our community. This is a real opportunity for substantial service improvement.

We genuinely believe that we can make our services in the Illawarra better. To help us do this we have established a stakeholder advisory committee with representatives from the local gay and lesbian community, plwha and service providers. The committee had already met a number of times to discuss the service continuity plan and we are meeting regularly with community groups and individuals to involve them in this process.

Our message has been clear -“ we are not closing ACON Illawarra, we are simply closing the office building and finding new accommodation for a new and more innovative service. We value the support that Peter and other community members have given ACON during our 10 years in Illawarra and we look forward to many more years in the area providing services that the community will help shape during the next few months.

-” Adrian Lovney, president, ACON

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