Meet Giovanni Campolo-Arcidiaco: The New Chair of Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras

Meet Giovanni Campolo-Arcidiaco: The New Chair of Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras
Image: Image: Ingmar Bulk

Giovanni Campolo-Arcidiaco is the newly chosen Chair of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) Board.

In a conversation with Star Observer, he spoke about Oxford Street, Mardi Gras, and the important work that lies ahead. 

Single-Chair Model

This year, according to Campolo-Arcidiaco, the board decided to go with a single-chair model, with no other office bearers. 

Prior to his appointment, he served two years as the Director of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Business Association (SGLBA), six years as the President of Queer Screen, and he was Co-Chair when Mardi Gras won the rights to WorldPride.

This is also his sixth year on the Mardi Gras Board.

For His First Mardi Gras, He Wore As Little As He Could

Arriving in Australia in 1997, from Italy, he experienced his first Mardi Gras in 1998, which was the 20th anniversary of the first Mardi Gras Parade. 

At the time, Campolo-Arcidiaco was working as a photographer for the Italian magazine Babylonia. 

“A friend told me that I couldn’t possibly go in the parade just wearing jeans and shirts so I wore as little as I could,” he shared.

“I had a lot of fun up and down the parade, while doing my job as a photographer, but really enjoying to be part of the vibe. 

“It was an incredible experience – the parade really changes lives.

“That’s when my love of Mardi Gras started.”

‘I Walked Into Gay Men’s Heaven’

Campolo-Arcidiaco’s first sight of Oxford Street happen a couple of days after he arrived in Sydney from Italy. 

“I walked into the Oxford Hotel – That’s when they still had the round bar in the middle of it – and I thought I walked into gay men’s heaven.”

Oxford Street itself was an incredibly vibrant place in the late 90s where you would go any time of the week, even during the day, and you would bump into friends or you would see something exciting or entertaining happening, even in the streets. 

“So definitely a very positive experience.”

‘I Know That We Can Really Make A Difference In This Society’

Speaking about the work that lies ahead, once the Sydney WorldPride festivities come to an end, he said, The responsibility lies with Mardi Gras to take on the legacy but also make Mardi Gras an even more significant event in the years to come.”

Campolo-Arcidiaco is aware that not everyone in the community shares the privilege that comes with being a gay man in the Queer community.

“I understand that we work for everyone, and there are topics in Australia; the forced surgery on intersex kids, the plight of LGBTI refugees, conversion therapy – there is a lot that can be done.”

He continued, “I am committed to work with the community because I know that we can really make a difference in this society.”

Campolo-Arcidiaco’s term runs till the end of 2023.

He replaced Co-Chairs Jesse Matheson and Mel Schwerdt.

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