New Mardi Gras has guaranteed the ’78ers a spot in this year’s parade and will help them put together a walking tribute to Lance Gowland.

Mardi Gras instigators, the ’78ers who marched and fought in the first-ever Mardi Gras, will once again make their presence known as they march in the tribute to Gowland, the founder of CAMP NSW and long-time gay rights activist who died last year.

The entry was conceived by Gareth Earnst, a close friend of Gowland’s.

Mardi Gras will also provide financial assistance to ensure the piece is a fitting tribute, said NMG Parade co-chair Liz Dodson.

Several ’78ers had said to me, -˜what about a tribute to Lance’ and it turned out that Gareth was doing it, so Mardi Gras is assisting him with the entry and will be contacting all the ’78ers.

While they haven’t expressed a great interest in the past, except on the anniversary, quite a few of them have expressed their interest after having such a good experience last time so it’s definitely something we’re interested in helping them facilitate in the future, she added.

One ’78er, Kye Poirier, who recently wrote a public letter calling on Mardi Gras to further involve the original group of protesters was more than pleased to hear of the decision.

We’re absolutely happy and at least we’re marching again. I can pretty safely say that every ’78er who can be there will be there.

I’ve spoken to so many people who have always said -˜you ’78ers should be in every year because you started it,’ and I agree with that -” right until it gets to the time when there’s only one person standing, he said, adding that it would be a particularly moving experience to walk in Gowland’s memory.

He was an unbelievable man, so it’s going to be very emotional walking when he’s not there.
It was emotional for us last year, being the 30th anniversary. There wasn’t a dry eye marching and this year it’s going to be worse, but I think Lance will be there in spirit.

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