“GLBTQIAPFLAG Mardi Gras?” Pretty soon that will be the short way to write about community without being scolded for not being inclusive. And frankly, it’s a bit shit.
With the growth rate of one additional letter per year since 2009, by 2025 we will have incorporated the whole alphabet into our acronym. It’s no wonder fresh meat, or ‘young people’ coming to Mardi Gras for the first time aren’t always sure what all the feathers are meant to stand for.
For me, it was an escape. As an ex-Sutherland Shire hobbit, Mardi Gras was my first taste of Gaydom. And for the most part it tasted a lot like latex — considering all the condoms we were blowing up. Mardi Gras was a metaphor for many things — how fabulous life is when you embrace eccentricities, and pride can be found in the biggest papier-mâché head to the tiniest mankini.
It also posed challenges, be it trying to cross the road on parade night or explaining to your parents why you were there at all.
With that in mind I can’t say I am envious of the panels, PR groups and volunteers that have to find a way each year to focus their messages into one unified thought. After all, Mardi Gras is no longer just about sexual preference, it reaches beyond orientation and personalities.
Our community is old, frail, in need of appropriate nursing care and hospitals.
Our community is young, nervous, and wanting open-minded counselling, and desperate for access to information about their sexuality.
We continue to be victimised and continue to be confused over whether justice is served appropriately when we are attacked.
We live in the city, in the suburbs, we run corner stores and we run companies that can literally shut down a nation. So how on earth could we possibly bundle up all our values, all our hopes and share them with such a diverse crowd?
And how, if we are challenged to represent our present community, do we also represent our past? After presenting at a Marriage Rally I was asked by an older man, “Why are you here? You didn’t go through the hell that I went through.” All I could do was be thankful. Thanks to his sacrifice, thanks to the 78ers and those who battled through – so much I don’t have to. And I hope the generation after me gets it even easier. The
Mardi Gras brand must reflect that; celebrating our hopeful future but forever being thankful for it’s politics and it’s history.
Through infinite love.
Infinite love is bold. Bigger than Bob Katter’s hat, sharper than Miranda Devine’s pen and it’s louder than Jim Wallace and Wendy Francis could ever hope to be.
When we lose a friend, when protests go unanswered — we can turn to this idea, and know it is inexhaustible.
We’ll dance to it, make out to it, shout, petition and lobby for it. For everyone who needs it, whenever that is, it will be there. A new symbol, a new idea and a new name that celebrates history, the future and the city which keeps it alive — Sydney Mardi Gras.
By BRENDAN MACLEAN