THE theme of the 2015 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival is more of a call to action rather than a “theme” per se, and it’s easy to see why.

And with that call of action being Passion, organisers hope to inspire all people to come together for Mardi Gras and share their passions.

Mardi Gras’ Marketing Creative Director Lewis Oswald explained the direction behind the season.

“Passion is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything. Passion is a motivator for change, and without it nothing truly beautiful can exist or be created or appreciated,” he said.

“Passion is all-encompassing and leaves no room for apathy.”

Oswald added that emotion played a significant role in the annual Mardi Gras tradition.

“Our Parade has always been, and continues to be, an amazing showcase of passion,” he said.

“Can you imagine where [the LGBTI community] would all be if we were apathetic and non-committed?”

For that reason, Mardi Gras is encouraging festival-goers to find, explore and express their passions.

“Shout it from the rooftops and let that sound be the music we dance to, the combined beats of our passionate hearts driving us forward and to a better place together,” Oswald said.

“Passion, to me, is all about what we are all here for, what drives us as individuals, what we reach for in our work, in our lovers, in our friends, in ourselves.

“Shared passions take us from individuals into a united force, they lead to actions, drive change and can both change the world for good.”

Oswald also thought passion united the diverse LGBTI community, and that this was crucial.

“In changing times and with the current global polarisation on many LGBTI issues, our shared passions are something we will defend and draw strength from,” he said.

“I personally believe that, as a society, we all have much to learn from each other… there is much to benefit from engaging with people with opposing views or values, they challenge us to question, to defend — and sometimes to modify and change — our own ideas and beliefs.

“They give us something to push against, to rebel against. They keep us on our toes. They keep us angry. They prevent us from loosing our passion. When we find a shared passion we can make progress.”

Citing the recent #illridewithyou viral social media campaign after the Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney, Oswald said the ability of Sydneysiders to unite in solidarity revealed just how much impact passion could have.

“It sometimes takes a big event for us all to realise just how united we can be and how much we value as a whole community,” he said.

This story was first published in fg, the Star Observer’s festival guide for the 2015 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. It’s available now. Click here to read the e-book version.

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