This year’s Mardi Gras telecast was a stunning live party event. A celebration and public relations exercise that highlighted the size, diversity, and complexity of the LGBTQI community. The ABC did us proud. As a viewer, I was entertained and informed, with colour and movement in abundance.

Yes, it was ‘produced’ to continually flow and not be seen as in previous telecasts of the street event, simply reflecting the passing, haphazard river of humanity. And mercifully, we had virtually no annoying “Look, Mum! I’m on the tele“ moments.

It was an important and timely event. In this election year, straight audiences gained a taste of the gay community as being out and proud. That we live and work everywhere, and that as individuals they will come into contact with gay people somewhere in their everyday life. And that we are a fun, competent, and amazingly diverse community whose sheer numbers and energy is a force for reckoning.

For the ABC, the telecast was about flaunting diversity, a showpiece about their ability to produce three hours of live entertainment under difficult circumstances and to endorse that they are there for all Australians. It was a win/win situation.

Missing: Politically Incorrect Statements, References to Gay History, and Crowd Reactions

But was it the Mardi Gras as we have known it? No, it wasn’t.

Missing were the artistic creativity of floats, the politically incorrect statements, references to gay history, and the reactions of the crowd enjoying themselves. 

What I saw was a great dress rehearsal for next year’s WorldPride Opening Ceremony. All it needed was for participants to stay massed on the field, add in the sporting participants, an opening speech or two, more musical performers, and then party until dawn. All the elements were there for a spectacular television event.

I suggest we still also need a Mardi Gras Parade along Oxford Street that would be a very different event, complete with floats, cheekiness, historical references, colour, and glitter. Any telecast would reflect that it was filming a street party – that is, it would be messy, personal, not strictly timed, and be simply a ‘wish-you-were-here’ record of the event. Any telecast would be for dedicated gay audiences via the ABCTV secondary channel and worldwide streaming.

At least for 2023, I suggest there is now a place for a spectacular gay event for mainstream consumption as well as the traditional Mardi Gras street parade.

As national and international image placement for our community, that is worth celebrating.

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