New Mardi Gras has launched its biggest consultation in over a decade about what the parade should be.

The Your Parade consultation, launched at the Supper Club last Thursday, is a month-long process in which community members are encouraged to write, email, and even film their and their friends’ ideas about what the parade means, who should be in it, and what its future direction should be.

“This is definitely not the time for people to hold back and sit on the sidelines,” NMG CEO Michael Rolik said.

“We want a range and diversity of views — the good, the bad and the ugly. We want to generate a healthy and robust debate.”

Rolik said key topics would include which groups could march in the parade; how the parade is funded; and which organisations New Mardi Gras should partner with.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to understand what our core is and maybe that core, as a result of this consultation, will be enhanced,” he said.

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New Mardi Gras’ head of events, Katrina Márton, said after a decade away from the organisation it was clear many of the debates remained the same.

“Ten years later a lot of the same arguments are going on and I guess that’s why it’s good to have this process again,” she said.

Referring to the decision to not allow an Animal Liberation float to participate in this year’s parade, Márton said, “The parade criteria were written some years ago. This year we looked at actually using those criteria in terms of parade selection.

“That came about because we’ve reached our capacity in many ways for the parade and we were seeking relevance back to the parade as a gay and lesbian/GLBTQI pride march.”

Márton said this year’s experience had reinforced that the parade was still the core of what Mardi Gras meant for people.

“One of the positive things to come out of the parade/party split was, while we lost attendance at the party, we did not lose attendance at the parade,” she said.

“That means the parade is still absolutely the beating heart of Mardi Gras and the most important thing we do.”

info: The consultation will close on July 12 with a public debate held at Paddington RSL and hosted by Julie McCrossin. Visit www.mardigras.org.au/yourparade

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