As Russia repealed gay rights on the eve of the Winter Olympics and various African nations strengthened anti-gay laws, ordinary Australians prepared to march through our nation’s largest city to mark LGBTI people’s entitlement to equal rights.
The legacy of each Mardi Gras is a more accepting Australia and, as recent events show, it is a celebration that is unthinkable in many other parts of the world.
Unfortunately, it lasts only one weekend each year before regular life resumes.
For too many people, this can mean a return to living in fear of being discriminated against just for being themselves.
This overt and subtle discrimination is a contributing factor as to why LGBTI people experience much higher rates of depression and anxiety than the majority of Australians.
Federal government shows data lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians are three times more likely to be experiencing depression and twice as likely to be experiencing an anxiety condition than their straight counterparts. Rates of mental illness for trans* and intersex people are thought to be even higher.
This is why beyondblue has a presence in the Mardi Gras and other pride festivals, and works hard to support LGBTI people who are or who may be at risk of experiencing depression or anxiety.
If you or someone you care about is feeling down in the wake of the Mardi Gras celebrations, whether it is because it marks a return to a life where discrimination is commonplace or for any other reason, I urge you to contact the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636 for advice*.
You can also visit www.beyondblue.org.au/lgbti for more information and to see how beyondblue is trying to reduce discrimination in Australia.
Each year, beyondblue is proud to be associated with the Mardi Gras and the thousands of people who march in it.
However, it is about much more than just one weekend a year.
It is about creating and sustaining an accepting Australian community where there is no discrimination.
* The Movember Foundation provides funding towards the beyondblue Support Service. To find out more about Movember and its relationship with beyondblue, visit movember.com