We have something we want to Cher with you - this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was one of the best ever!
The Mardi Gras is already one of our favourite times of the year, giving everyone a chance to join with friends and family to celebrate diversity and inclusion - but this year we had the added celebration of the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage, the presence of Cher as the headline act, and of course the 40th anniversary of the event.
It is the enormous diversity of groups and the enthusiasm they bring that make Mardi Gras such a special event.
At Google we believe that by creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to their work, they can be more innovative, creative, and inspired at work. We also want our employees to have the same inclusive experience outside of the office as they do at work, and for people to be safe and to be accepted wherever they are, so we look for impactful ways to help the LGBTQI+ community in Australia.
Google supports the Mardi Gras through its Community Parade Grants program, which is designed to fund and support a diverse range of community ideas and provide grants to individuals, community groups and not-for-profit groups to help lift their parade entries to a completely new artistic level.
This year is the second year for the program, and because it’s a special occasion - the 40th anniversary of the parade - we invested further funds to support a greater number of community groups and nonprofits: $80,000 in grant money was divided among 31 deserving organisations from all over Australia to help create extra fabulous floats in celebration of the momentous anniversary.
Some of the 31 Community Parade Grant recipients include:
Salamat Datang used their float to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQI community in Indonesia.
- Selamat Datang GLBTQI: Selamat Datang was created to show support for GLBTQI people in Indonesia and their struggle for acceptance in Indonesian society. Recently, the national Constitutional Court narrowly rejected a petition to have homosexual acts banned. The backlash from this has been phenomenal. There is now a debate being conducted by the national House of Representatives to introduce a new criminal code which would seek to ban homosexual acts between two consenting adults. Selamat Datang used their float to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQI community in Indonesia.
- Trans Sydney Pride: TSP is a Sydney based social and support group founded by binary transpeople for binary, non-binary and gender queer transpeople. Their vision was to create a Trans Army in response to the Trump Administration’s position on trans people serving in the military.
- twenty10: twenty10 provides social support, counseling, housing and mental health support for young LGBTQI people in Sydney. Their Parade entry was themed; 'Flaming Futures: Be yourself but don’t leave anyone behind!' and depicted what an evolved future free of discrimination and oppression could look like.
Disability rights, similar to LGBTIQ rights, have evolved substantially over the last four decades and PWDA aimed to celebrate and embrace this with their entry.
- People With Disability Australia: PWDA’s float theme was “Evolution to Inclusion”. Disability rights, similar to LGBTIQ rights, have evolved substantially over the last four decades and PWDA aimed to celebrate and embrace this with their entry.
- Departure Lounge: This float proudly proclaims “Rock Out With Your Croc Out” and will showcase the unique and fabulous LGBTQIA+ community in the Northern Territory. With a large contingent of locals from the NT attending, including many Sista Girls and Brotha Boys from the Tiwi Islands, Daly River and other remote parts of the NT, the float was led by a giant inflatable Territory Crocodile.
FOBGAYS' float transformed into a giant colourful wedding party, called a baraat, traveling down Oxford Street.
- FOBGAYS: FOBGAYS is a grassroots community network of Friends and Family of Brown (South Asian) LGBTQI identifying people. Their float transformed into a giant colourful wedding party, called a baraat, traveling down Oxford Street in celebration of marriage equality.
- In Memory of Carmen Rupe: A grand dame of Mardi Gras, Carmen Rupe was a legendary Kiwi icon who called Sydney home for most of her life and who passed away five years ago. This float celebrated the life of this trailblazer who spent her life championing equality.
- Inner City Legal Centre: The ICLC is a non-profit community based legal centre who have been helping provide support to the LGBTQI community for over 30 years. Their float saw participants dressed in their 70’s finest in celebration of the original 1978 marchers as well as the significant LGBTI law reform that has occurred over the past 40 years.
The Itty Bitty Titty Committee's float was a homage, with a twist, to the 2017 hit TV series 'The Handmaid's Tale'.
- Itty Bitty Titty Committee: The title of this float is 'The Handmaid's (Fairy) Tale'. The float was a homage, with a twist, to the 2017 hit TV series, 'The Handmaid's Tale' and featured lesbian handmaids who are happy, gay and free, unlike the imprisoned characters in the show.
- Tasmanian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby Group: TGLRG’s float celebrated LGBTQI Tasmanians and the 30th anniversary of the formation of the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, Tasmania’s leading LGBTQI rights group.
- The Kirby Institute: The Kirby Institute has worked closely with the LGBTI community towards eradicating HIV and other infectious diseases in Australia and globally. The theme of their float was “Agents of Change” and aimed to highlight and celebrate developments in HIV prevention and treatment over the years.
It is the enormous diversity of groups and the enthusiasm they bring that make Sydney Mardi Gras such a special event, and it was fabulous for everyone at Google to be able to make a difference to their participation this year.