Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras considers changing name in bid to be more “inclusive”

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras considers changing name in bid to be more “inclusive”
Image: Mardi Gras Party 2019. Image: Ann-Marie Calilhanna.

The team at Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) have begun a consultation process with members of the LGBTIQ+ community on the prospect of changing the festival’s name.

In a note sent out to members overnight, the team highlighted a number of concerns they had received over the years around the festival’s name, which currently only specifies ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ without mention of diverse gender identities or other sexualities.

In response, SGLMG will hold a community consultation event in April, culminating in a survey that will potentially be used to select a name.

Chief Executive of SGLMG, Terese Casu, said that many Mardi Gras members, community groups, event organisers, and patrons had questioned her on how to make the festival more inclusive and how the name could more accurately reflect the community.

“We feel it’s an important step to take in talking to the community to see what can be done to be more inclusive and reflect all the vibrant colours of everyone under and over the rainbow,” she said.

Co-Chair of Mardi Gras, Giovanni Campolo-Arcidiaco, said the Board felt it was the right time to engage the community on a potential name change.

“We do not take the matter lightly and understand that a change to our organisation’s name can only happen by a vote of our members at a General Meeting,” he said.

“Our members will have the ultimate say, but we want to live up to our commitment for inclusion.

“That’s what the proposed name change is for: supporting members of our community who feel excluded.”

This is far from the first time SGLMG has had to deal with community contention around the festival’s name.

In 2011, SGLMG faced community backlash after deciding to drop ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ from the festival’s title without community consultation.

During an information and feedback session at the time, there was talk of organising an Extraordinary General Meeting to put the name change to a vote, yet this was shot down as a counterproductive move right before the 2012 Mardi Gras festival.

SGLMG acknowledged the lack of consultation as a misstep, before announcing plans to set up a Members and Community Advisory Group, with the first order of business “to examine the festival and parade name change”.

The upcoming community consultation event will be held at Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s Eternity Playhouse on Sunday 7 April at 4pm.

Mardi Gras members will also be invited to engage in the discussion over the next few weeks.

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11 responses to “Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras considers changing name in bid to be more “inclusive””

  1. Why the scare quotes around the word inclusive in the headline?

    I’ve been calling for Mardi Gras to be inclusive for years because the name, as it currently is, actively excludes so many members of the LGBTIQ+ communities. I don’t feel welcome and won’t participate in Mardi Gras while it has its current name.

    The phrase “gay and lesbian” is not an umbrella term for the LGBTIQ+ communities, the same way that gay is not an umbrella term for those communities either.

    Mardi Gras isn’t for everyone. As Hannah Gadsby said, “where do the quiet gays go?” But for those who like to party and celebrate loud, a fully inclusive Mardi Gras would be fantastic.

  2. Previous comment by Angus is spot on. “Sydney Mardi Gras”. That covers everyone.

  3. People calling for the end of Mardi Gras, did you not see the amazing stories of young LBGQTI kids this year talking about their first Mardi Gras, and the role it played in their coming out and immersion into the community? I lived in Asia and it is a beacon of hope, and often the highlight of oppressed peoples lives.
    Mardi Gras is relevant – as to what to call it….that’s a hard one!

  4. How about everyone except homophobic and lesbophobic people! Seriously stop trying too hard leave it as it is we already have everyone there. Even homophobes-sadly.

  5. Like many of those who reach the age of 40, it is common to retreat from the Gay & Lesbian scene . Maybe it is time for the parade to retreat whilst it still has some dignity left.
    Yes it was outstanding in it’s younger years, but now the parade appears to be trying too hard to be relevant.

  6. How about ‘The Money Gras’ that seems to be the focus of most things in our state under the current fascist regime.

  7. Keep it short ‘n sweet ‘Sydney Mardi Gras’ :)
    Sydney Gay, Lesbian, transgender, bisexual, intersex, or any other sexuality or gender identity Mardi Gras… more than a mouthful!

  8. Personally as a middle aged 33 year old libertarian/conservative autistic, atheist gay man – how about we just drop the whole Mardi Gras thing altogether within 2020 and into the future, because let’s just face facts and be honest for a change of pace. Mardi Gras has well past it’s used by date in 2019, become it is way both too commercialised and leftist for thousands of others just like me anyway.

  9. Consider?
    This should have been done years ago, and maybe you would have a more positive financial supporters.

  10. They were right to drop gay and lesbian from the name. Just call it the Sydney parade. Aside from the alphabet soup LGBTQI….., there were so many straight people in the parade it didn’t feel like our parade any more