Mardi Gras Fair Day 2020

Me and Keith, we’ve known each other from partying scenes and community work since the early 2000s.

Went to do the Fair Play stall at Mardi Gras Fair Day in Victoria Park. Mingled with fairgoers, handing out info cards with links to drug rights and details for free legal advice if partygoers are busted by cops with sniffer dogs.

With the news, just three days ago, that police had set an annual quota of 250,000 strip searches, everyone in the inner west is pretty upset at the moment, since we’ve been corralled when exiting from Newtown Train Station, just so police can search us to tick their boxes.

Fair Play was set up after the bashing of Jamie Jackson by police in 2013. Read the latest updates if you are wanting to party safely. [I’ve been involved since the initiative started in 2013, due to many partying friends suffering serious misadventures and deaths.]

Bondi Badlands Historical Violence Walking Tour

Went to ACON’s Bondi Badlands Historical Violence Walking Tour today. Author/journalist Greg Callaghan filled us in on each victim’s life story and pointed out the general vicinity of where they had been murdered by juvenile homophobic gangs. It was organised by ACON project manager for safety, inclusion and historical justice, the lovely Michael Atkinson.

The walk, around the clifftop from Bondi Icebergs to Tamarama, started off sunny, but was soon totally freezing with biting wind and rain and we were huddled together with heads bowed like those penguins during winter in Antartica. Luckily, we found shelter at the public toilets in Marks Park — a popular beat where many post-Mardi Gras parties and celebrations had been held. It was also, unfortunately, the scene of many murderous homophobic crimes. But happily, it will also be where a memorial will be placed to remember those we lost.

I used to live in Bondi during 1991-1994, and the clifftop walk was a renowned danger spot at night, as there were no railings, no lighting, and gangs of drunk youths used to hang around there, do drugs and bash people.

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Sydney LGBTIQA Mardi Gras

It was the 40th Anniversary and so amazing. The numerous dance venues created a mini city and it was as buzzy and packed as the peak 1990s era.

Was privileged to be sitting next to a 78er, Peter McEwan from Melbourne, while waiting for Cher’s performance. He’d visited Sydney in 1978 for a national homosexual conference at Paddington Town Hall, and was involved in the protests. “The agenda back then used to include fighting in solidarity for everyone — access to abortion, refugees, women’s rights. I wish that solidarity was still around today. Other issues are important too.” He prefers the term “Queer” to “Gay”, as it’s more gender fluid.

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Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence visit Taronga Zoo

Went with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on their 24th annual Taronga Park Zoo sistersvisitation. We’re told to wear sensible shoes, a hat, and that the event will go ahead in all weathers. The first highlight is the amazing ferry trip across Sydney Harbour, with a view of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the visiting Queen Mary cruise ship.

Mostly international Mardi Gras visitors attend this excursion so they can appreciate our local fauna, and the Sisters, led by Mother Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, provide a hilarious commentary of poems dedicated to each animal and – to the shock of attendees – early colonial recipes for eating them! Kangaroo tail is to be made like oxtail soup, and black swans should be cooked in a moderate oven for two hours. There were also tips on how to make a delicious Galah Pie and Roast Wombat!

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Mardi Gras 2016

Was a fantastic LGBTIQ Mardi Gras – marched with the Social Justice in Early Childhood float, which had major issues to promote, such as promoting diversity and equity in preschools, and general support for the Safe Schools initiative, which helps older schoolkids who have gender differences, and intersex and sexual diversity.

Then did the 11pm – 1.30am shift with Fair Play, an initiative that makes sure Mardi Gras party patrons are treated fairly when sniffer dogs and police check for drugs.

After that, it was off the the Party, with Deborah Cox’s show at 3am a major highlight, and her two songs totally raised the roof: gay anthem Absolutely Not and Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here. Conchita’s 1.30am show was brilliant too, with many of Sydney’s drag queens doing a spectacular dance number.

I was wearing a Parade Participant wristband and several tourists came up and said it was the best party they’d ever been to, and they’d traveled worldwide. Seems a lot of other major gay dance parties are held hours after a day parade, whereas ours goes from the high of the evening parade directly into the party, so everyone’s totally pumped up. (Am in the pic below, behind the word “Justice”.)

SJIEC

 

Speaking our truth, telling our stories

Went to this Marrickville Council forum, a “friendly all-inclusive panel discussion on LGBTIQ initiatives and emerging issues”, MCed by social justice advocate and former broadcaster Julie McCrossin.

Everyone was invited to make recommendations for Marrickville Council’s assistance.

Some highlights:

Cristyn Davies, co-chair of Twenty 10:

There should be changes in Early Childhood settings so children can express their gender in different ways eg. wearing different clothes. There should be gender-neutral bathrooms.

Marrickville Council should offer internships, so young people who have difficulties finding a job (because of their appearance), can get work experience. They should be asked which gender pronouns they would like to be used in the workplace.

 Sujay Kentlyn, of Outrageous Ageing:

“A lot of couples are terrified of going into residential age care, afraid of being treated badly and not respected. But things have changed, thanks to people like David Urquhart and Lex Watson.”

Some retirement villages have a “Rainbow Accreditation”, look for the Rainbow tick on their website.

– McCrossin said in her last days “I want the values of the Sacred Heart Hospice”.

 Teresa Avila: founder and director of Red Rattler venue in 2008 (not-for-profit incorporated arts association, often hosts alternative queer events).

Had a long list of recommendations, including that council publish a “Creative Spaces for Dummies” guide for local artists. Avila said it had cost about $200,000 to navigate council’s requirements to get the Rat up and running, which is a huge barrier for future artists thinking about opening a space.