Rainbow Babies and Kids (RBK) has been declined a spot in this year’s Mardi Gras Parade. The group was formed about 20 years ago and has marched in the parade for virtually all that time. Babies and young kids who were part of the original intake are now in their teens and early twenties and have grown up with Mardi Gras – it’s as important to them as Christmas.
“It’s supposed to be our night, our night of nights, our kids don’t get many of those nights,” says Curry
Simone Curry runs the group along with Louise Hammond and both are devastated, as are their children. They unfortunately missed out on last year’s parade too because of an issue with paperwork.
Curry questioned Mardi Gras on their decision for this parade and was given a lengthy email reply which included the following summary:
Contributing reasons to your application being unsuccessful include:
• You are an LGBTQI organisation who has past parade exposure and your application was withdrawn to allow the opportunity for a new or emerging LGBTQI community application or an applicant who has not participated more recently;
• We were oversubscribed with similar community or thematic representation to that of your application, your application was lowered in favour of other under-represented community or thematic applicants
There is no review or appeal process.
RBK includes a lot of families who have known each other for many years. The group has twice yearly camping trips among other events. The parade is the highlight of the year.
“We’re very much aimed at keeping these events affordable for people that miss out on the really glitzy stuff, the stuff they can’t come to because they’re too far away from it or can’t afford. This is one way they can be part of something huge and exciting,” says Curry.
In the past they have made their own costumes and props.
Curry feels the timing is especially bad with the social climate and attitude towards the LGBTQI being agitated by the recent Marriage Equality survey and now the Religious Discrimination Bill.
RBK is not the only float that has been vetoed from the parade. Popular group, Latino Lovers, UNSW and a host of other wannabe participants have failed to made the final cut.
Voices have been raised against the inclusion of corporate floats, but Curry has no objection to sponsors having a spot – just not at the displacement of established, genuine LGBTIQ groups.
Nor does Curry intend to passively accept the Mardi Gras verdict. She has created a Change.org campaign petitioning for inclusion of RBK in the parade. It is currently just shy of one thousand signatures.
“It is a parade, and it is to celebrate, and it is to show our gorgeousness, but it’s also a march, it’s a protest march, it’s to let people know we’re here and we’re queer and we’re not going away and we’re proud.”