For some, debating is an exercise in gentle persuasion. But organisers of this year’s Great Debate have other ideas.

Thanks to a stellar line-up and a topic that’s been dividing audiences since the days of Prisoner and Number 96, the annual Mardi Gras event should pack all the punch of a prize-fight.

Speakers, including comedian Mark Trevorrow, gender illusionist Courtney Act and science broadcaster Bernie Hobbs, will debate the subject Big Brother’s queer eye is only for the straight guy: token TV gays and lesbians are not reality.

Author Neil Drinnan, satirist Phil Scott and comic Libbi Gorr will also bring their wit to the ACON charity event, under the supervision of MC Margaret Pomeranz.

And while sides are still being finalised, the evening is already shaping up as pure entertainment.

Speakers will use humour and maybe even a few dirty tricks to trump the opposition, while exploring the more serious question of gay and lesbian representation on TV.

We’ll talk a lot about the kinds of stereotypes that get reinforced and broken down and ideas that are played with, but in a really fun way, Bernie Hobbs told SSO.

It’s just great to get out there and have a stab and a dig at everyone and have a bit of fun and raise a bit of money, said Hobbs, who will be arguing the affirmative case.

Courtney Act, meanwhile, is slated for the negative team, and says mind games, costume and a barb or two will be her Great Debate strategy.

I’m currently reading Psychology For Dummies, said Act, herself a reality TV survivor after the first series of Australian Idol.

And while she would try to keep things civil, Act said she would happily fire back if provoked.

There’s no personal grudges in debating, just arguing facts, she said, unless somebody slings mud, in which case I’m happy to sling mud back.

Fellow speaker Mark Trevorrow is equally enthusiastic about next week’s debate -“ and its topic.

We’ve been invisible for too many thousands of years -“ any visibility is good, he told Sydney Star Observer.

And what the hell’s wrong with nelly queens being on TV anyway when there’s so many nelly queens in the world?

The Great Debate is on Wednesday 23 February at 8pm at the Seymour Centre, cnr City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale.

Tickets cost $35 or $30 concession.

Book on 9351 7940 or at the Seymour Centre Box Office.

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