New Mardi Gras co-chairs PETE URMSON & STEPH SANDS are calling us to action this Mardi Gras.

Regardless of how you identify in this world, we have all wanted to say something to someone at stages in our lives where we have found it difficult, overwhelming, frightening, and sometimes ecstatic! Just like Mardi Gras, Say Something means so many different things to different people. This is why it is so appropriate for this year’s Mardi Gras.

This year, instead of telling you what the theme is, we are asking you to speak on our behalf. To Say Something on the Mardi Gras Facebook page, to participate in the online galleries, to say something verbally to your own inner and outer circles, to get involved by using your voice.

Say Something is about political statements of equality and basic civil rights. Say Something means expressions of diversity and who we are as individuals through creativity. Say Something means celebrating that individualism and that of our tribes. And Say Something means standing up for those who can’t and speaking on their behalf. Say Something is a simple but powerful call to action that everyone can embrace and engage with in ways which are unique to them.

This year we won’t pay lip service to Mardi Gras as a community organisation for the community, we’ll make it one. Mardi Gras is all about our community and how we celebrate our diversity, our struggles.

Over the years we have focused on our changing environments and celebrated our victories with the parade, party and other events. We have come together, communities within communities, to form a larger critical mass to promote, march for, fight for and celebrate our quest for equality, safety and love.

Say Something is a call to action for all our communities and the individuals in them. Don’t just sit there, join us and Say Something that has meaning to you. We can collectively create that magic force of change that has the power to shift prejudice and inequality.

It will be your voice, both individual and collective, that sets the tone for this year’s festival, Fair Day, Parade and Party. The messages you post, say, yell and celebrate will be the key messages that come out of Mardi Gras 2011. The campaign is a return to our grassroots of giving GLBTQ rights a voice and platform to be heard.

The Mardi Gras board, ourselves included, are actively engaging across community groups and tribes within this amazing society. And it is amazing because we have discovered no fewer than 273 organisations, groups, tribes and collectives which make up the “community” in which we exist.

Mardi Gras is about you, it’s about your message, struggles, celebrations and combined diversity. We are asking that you join us in bringing it all together for something fabulous.

Mardi Gras has had its fair share of challenges in recent years. There is an old saying, “If you stick your head up, then be prepared to get it knocked off”. We both made a conscious decision last August to change the organisation. We chose to Say Something.

How amazing would it be if we did not “eat our own”. How great if we schedule and have constructive debate through regular community forums? What if we engage anyone who wanted to Say Something?

Mardi Gras is totally reliant on our community organisations, groups and tribes — all 273 of them. We rely on them to steer our messages, steer our celebrations and provide the support structures that bind us together as that diverse and challenging community.

Some have said Mardi Gras has lost touch with the community, that we were no longer relevant.

But we firmly believe we only lose our relevance when you have nothing left to say. It’s that simple.

Could you imagine a Sydney without Mardi Gras? We can’t!

If you don’t feel Mardi Gras represents you, speaks for you, fights for you, if you truly believe we have it wrong and we need to Say Something else, then get involved. You have an open invitation.

We know our community can move mountains, support one another, understand each other and respect our diverse opinions. That’s what makes us who we are! Unique.

So watch this space, Mardi Gras is back but in an exciting, positive, collective new way. We are going to be bigger, bolder and riskier, we want to push boundaries like never before and we not only invite you to join us, we are relying on you to create, educate, protest, remember, celebrate, and articulate.

We are relying on YOU this year to “Say Something”.

– Pete & Steph

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