Warm-up for Gay Christmas
WORDS BY SANDRA BUOL
It has been said – half jokingly, half dead serious – that owning a pet is one of the cornerstones of the homosexual identity. Strolling through Victoria Park on Sunday, one might think that there is possibly a lot of truth to it. There were some fabulous canine companions to be seen at this year’s Fair Day. Most of them were heading down to Doggywood, where they showed of their glitter and glamour for the photo booth. The most ambitious ones also took part in the Game of Bones pageant, one of the many events staged around Doggywood.
The official start for this year’s Mardi Gras, the rainbow flag raising ceremony at the Town Hall, already happened last Friday. For many though the Fair Day remains the most beloved event of the Mardi Gras season. And this year it was as big as never before. More than 250 stalls lined up in Victoria Park – a new record for the festival’s 40th anniversary. And it was crowded. Thousands of people strolled through the park, watched the speeches and performances on the main stage, admired the Dykes on Bikes, signed up for information and volunteering at the community stalls, visited the sports village, showed off skin and muscles at the Tropicana bar, danced to local DJ heroines Sveta and Kate Monroe, ate chips on sticks and stood in – very long – lines for a drink.
The stalls highlighted the diversity of the LGBTQI community and included the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives, Rainbow Families, the Women’s Library, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir, Wet Ones Swimming Club, Gender Centre, the Sydney Femme Guild, the Harbour City Bears and the 78ers. Even the Liberals staffed a stall, announcing that it was the Turnbull government who made same-sex marriage possible – a claim that, while technically true, did not go down well with many visitors.
The University of Sydney was also present with a stall – and there was tremendous interest throughout the day. Despite the heat, their volunteers fielded a plethora of questions about the University of Sydney’s Fair Day stall and how the university's Ally Network supports LGBTIQ students and staff. Prospective and current students talked to the Student Ambassadors about the LGBTIQ experience at USYD and the resources available. The stall had a wonderful air of fun and inclusivity, with a wide variety of children and the young at heart stopping by to get their faces painted or lounge on the bean bag for a chat. The bubble machine was in full swing and a crowd favourite. A thousand Chupa Chups were handed out to those in need of a sugar hit, along with Ally Network flyers, Centre for Continuing Education course info and details about the upcoming Sydney Ideas event on same-sex marriage around the world. Hundreds of people captured memories using their gorgeous rainbow heart frames.
Everyone from the Ally Network is excited about Mardi Gras which the University is officially supporting this year – and preparations are well underway. While the finer details of the float are a tightly held secret, the theme will be “Rally. Change. Evolve.” to signify their evolution, and to honour 40 years of Mardi Gras, which began as a street festival but turned into a protest on 24 June 1978. Students and staff dancing in the parade have begun their transformation with two choreography rehearsals, as they try to repeat their success in 2016 for winning best choreography.
This article was produced with help from the lovely people from the University of Sydney Ally Network.
Here you can find further information about their upcoming event Sydney Ideas - Same-sex marriage and the state: global perspectives.
Image credit: Stefanie Zingsheim