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February 27, 2007 11:12 PM   Subscribe

Happy Mardi Gras! Originally a serious protest march, the annual Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, to be held this Saturday, is now a riotously festive celebration of queer pride & probably Sydney's largest & most fabulous party all year. For the first time, this year the event will also be streamed across the web, for all those who cannot come down under.
posted by UbuRoivas (46 comments total)

 
saturday sydney time = friday, american time. work it out for yourselves.

the broadcast is not actually free, but i have nothing whatsoever to do with the company, the mardi gras committee etc etc...just thought that some mefites out there might be interested in watching.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:13 PM on February 27, 2007


laissez les bons temps roulez!
posted by jrb223 at 12:56 AM on February 28, 2007


My ex-girlfriend invited me to the Mardi Gras this year (neither of us have been before). This may be her way of saying that I turned her into a lesbian.

Also, I love the fact (according to wikipedia, anyway) that 'mardi gras' means 'fat Tuesday'.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:08 AM on February 28, 2007


Oh great, another pride parade to reinforce every gay and lesbian stereotype and provide plenty of pictoral ammo for the homophobes.
posted by acetonic at 3:41 AM on February 28, 2007


That's one way of looking at it I suppose acetonic. Or it's a celebration, a tradition, a reinforcement and a great excuse for a massive party. The yearly ritual may actually be helping to breakdown homophobic prejudice and allow GLBT persons to move an inch forward towards wider societal acceptance. But you keep drinking from your half empty glass.

Back in the day, when I lived in Erko, the epicentre of gaydom, I used to help a few friends getting floats together and I always had a good time at the event itself. I haven't been for a few years. I'm less worried about the 'ammo for homophobes' than I am by the corporate nature of proceedings these days. It's a bit hard to maintain spontaneity prancing under sponsorship. Still, those bastards sure know how to have a good time. Good on 'em!
posted by peacay at 4:02 AM on February 28, 2007


Um, aren't they a little late? We're a week into lent now.
posted by octothorpe at 4:06 AM on February 28, 2007


Oh great, another pride parade
another? Did you read the first link?
It began on June 24, 1978. No pancakes for you.
posted by tellurian at 4:13 AM on February 28, 2007


The yearly ritual may actually be helping to breakdown homophobic prejudice and allow GLBT persons to move an inch forward towards wider societal acceptance.

Well, I would like to have an idea of what sort of effect it has; all the gay people I know are normal people, who do normal things. They don't wear leather and dance on floats in the exact same way that I don't wear leather and dance on floats. I mean, shit, not that there's anything wrong with that, but what proportion of the gay community actually does that sort of stuff, anyway?

Is the message (a) we're gay and look at how we get our freak on! or (b) we're gay, and we're just like everyone else. The aim of the Mardi Gras appears to be (a), but I would imagine events that push message (b) are probably more useful. I could be wrong.
posted by Jimbob at 4:40 AM on February 28, 2007


cool--thanks! I'll tune in, definitely.

Did they move it from June (the Stonewall anniversary date) because of weather?
posted by amberglow at 4:53 AM on February 28, 2007


I'd have said it's (c), we're gay, some of our cultural and social traditions and expectations are different to those generally presented by the straight mainstream, and while on the whole we're pretty damn similar to anyone else, we won't hide or quash those cultural differences so as to appear 'normal' to the sort of person who'd care.
posted by terpsichoria at 5:02 AM on February 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Your comment is fair, terpsichoria... I just always figured those "cultural differences" were a product of oppression and isolation, not some inate part of same-sex attraction.

I just get concerned about whether the Sydney Mardi Gras is asking the world to accept people who are same-sex attracted, or whether it's asking the world to accept guys in assless chaps. In my mind, those are two different things. And if it's asking the world to accept the later, then it seems to have less power to do the former.

The whole corporate angle is concerning as well; it's a highly efficient way of making sure spectacle trumps meaning.
posted by Jimbob at 5:11 AM on February 28, 2007


(I should add that I do think it's great that the Mardi Gras now has the coverage and the acceptance that it does; I just think that should be used as an opportunity to push the envelope further, not to just dance around to Kylie.)

My wife, reading over my shoulder, tells me I don't know the gay community as well as I think I do, and that the Mardi Gras is a celebration for the gay community, not an effort to be accepted by straight folk.

I guess she wins the argument.
posted by Jimbob at 5:17 AM on February 28, 2007


Is the message (a) we're gay and look at how we get our freak on! or (b) we're gay, and we're just like everyone else. The aim of the Mardi Gras appears to be (a), but I would imagine events that push message (b) are probably more useful.

Valid points but I guess I'd be going with (c) we're gay and this is our public affirmation that there is a large population of us...still. With a fair dose of (a) on the side.

My guess is that the RSL and blue rinse set don't have the words 'gay' and 'homosexual' stuck in their craw to the same extent as they used to be and a certain inevitability and some level of acceptance of (b) happens over time. Parents have more reason to discuss the topic with their kids. The reaffirmation is also for young adults exploring their own sexuality too - the high profile and regularity of the event reinforces that homosexuality is a normal trait.

But I'm no spokesperson for the LGBT community, if for one very intrinsic reason, and for the majority of people who are tolerant the event probably doesn't serve much purpose I guess. But perhaps the continuity and media coverage of Mardi Gras over the years has played some role in allowing many of these people - us - to grow up tolerant. I too could be wrong.
posted by peacay at 5:22 AM on February 28, 2007


The whole corporate angle is concerning as well; it's a highly efficient way of making sure spectacle trumps meaning.

The whole corporate angle has meaning--it's a symbol of corp. progress and that we're fully a desirable market, and a symbol of the fact that seeing it as an "assless chaps" thing is not how they --or most people--characterize it or our communities.
posted by amberglow at 5:23 AM on February 28, 2007


when Dykes on Bikes and Citicorp both are present at the same event, it all has very potent meaning.
posted by amberglow at 5:26 AM on February 28, 2007


amberglow, I'm pretty certain it has always been about the first week of March. May gets to be a bit nippy (which probably matters if you are wearing chaps or as skimpy tu-tu, but then again, it's nothing that a bucket full of vodka wouldn't alleviate).
posted by peacay at 5:26 AM on February 28, 2007


And when corp employee groups are followed by baton twirlers and go-go boys and grandmas and cowboys and college groups and govt officials and those corporations, the meaning of it all gets even more profound.
posted by amberglow at 5:28 AM on February 28, 2007


I wrote a whole thing here, but the browser ate it whole because I'm an idiot. So, in short:

I just don't think anyone who claims to be against voting for gay rights because of the assless chaps and the drag queens would seriously be swayed by a 'normalisation' of queer people. It would leave the biggest misconceptions and irrational fears these people seem to have - men having sex with men, the perceived corruption of their children, casual sex, sex for pleasure - intact, as far as they're concerned. The fact that some of the anti-equality types choose to use visible gay-community events like Pride as ammunition doesn't mean that these things are their only problem with us, or even their primary one. They've got a lifetime supply of ammunition because they make their own, and if we were to take away Pride they'd just start making it out of things that are innate to same-sex attraction, as many already do.

On the other hand, we'd stand to lose or diminish so many positive elements - the challenging of traditional gender roles and the demystification and open presentation of sex among them - that queer culture seems to possess and every other part of modern societies to lack. Hiding Pride events away to make gay people seem 'normal' in the eyes of legislators and voters would be dismantling a culture and community like none other in existence. Anyone whose eyes would theoretically be opened to the fact that queer people are much like everyone else is already capable of seeing that, and those who attack these easy targets have a problem with us that looking normal wouldn't solve.
posted by terpsichoria at 6:10 AM on February 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


(by the way, that wasn't really directed as a response to anyone in the thread - with the possible exception of acetonic - more just a comment on the whole business, sort of thing.)
posted by terpsichoria at 6:14 AM on February 28, 2007


Jimbob: Well, gee, have you actually seen footage from the stands of a football game lately? What a bunch of weird perverts, stripping half-naked, wearing silly hats and body paint. And don't get me started on Shriners in their little cars. A family confession, my father is a hardcore Goldwinger and there is something embarrassing about seeing couples in matching jackets on expensive motorcycles flaunt their heterosexuality as a group for charity.

(On a less sarcastic note, I've always noticed that go-go boys and dykes on bikes get disproportionate coverage any time they appear. I don't think that's the problem of more flamboyant queer cultures however.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:14 AM on February 28, 2007


I saw a Gay Pride march here in Barcelona the other week. The funniest sight wasn't the assless chaps float or the 55-year-old leatherboy float, it was the, er, bisexual float. They all looked like nerdy science students, except they had pieces of paper cellotaped to their heads which said "I am normal."
posted by dydecker at 6:42 AM on February 28, 2007


If you've ever been to a Pride parade, you'd see that the spectacle is on the floats and in the parade. The vast majority of people attending are 'normal'. Just like other events, it's the outrageous portions that make good news stories..
posted by matty at 7:20 AM on February 28, 2007


Is there a gay and lesbian Lent to follow?
posted by raysmj at 7:52 AM on February 28, 2007


"come down under" isn't a pun is it?
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:52 AM on February 28, 2007


raysmj: during Lesbian Lent, they can't eat fish on fridays.
posted by papakwanz at 8:22 AM on February 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


what terpsichoria said--and i'd add that the reason Pride exists at all is because drag queens and other undesirables fought back --finally. We've never stopped fighting, and we'll never hide again.
posted by amberglow at 9:41 AM on February 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


oh, since it's Pride somewhere in the world: RIP Barbara Gittings (a pre-Stonewall activist--she marched on the White House and stuff)
posted by amberglow at 9:45 AM on February 28, 2007


The question of whether events like these are "good for" gay rights also depends on what rights you're interested in.

Me, I'm less interested in marriage and more interested in holding hands with my boyfriend without starting trouble. In a city where a big, very sexualized, very gay march can go on without incident, I feel pretty damn safe holding hands, you know?

(Now, I'm not saying Pride marches and the like hurt the legislative aspect of the movement any. I'm not sure what effect they have. I'm just saying there is at least one aspect — establishing queer-friendly public spaces — which they definitely help with.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:18 AM on February 28, 2007


Pride Marchers: "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!"
Lisa Simpson: "You do this every year! We are used to it!"
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:20 AM on February 28, 2007


Oh, and apropos of nothing, I love the username "nebulawindphone." It's so evocative, even if I'm not sure of what.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2007


Pride events with go-go boys and penis floats and diesel dykes (not all on the same float!) are always going to be fuel for the far-right wingnuts, and since they hate us even when we're wearing "normal" clothes and doing "normal" things (like working), then I can't see worrying about our once-a-year (well, twice or three or four times, depending on where you live) parties and parades. Most non-wingnut people, though they may be a little weirded out by the floats and the boys and the leathermen/women, seem to understand that a parade is all about flaunting it and being in costume. I mean, it's not like the folks in the New Orleans crewes spend the non-Mardi Gras portion of the year in feather boas and beads, you know?

I dislike pride now because I'm old and hate big crowds, and the commercialization of it makes me want to go home and take a shower. Still, the PFLAG contingent always makes me a little weepy.
posted by rtha at 10:37 AM on February 28, 2007


I still get a thrill every year when i look up and down 5th Ave. at all the people--even after more than 20 years of attending. : >
posted by amberglow at 10:46 AM on February 28, 2007


Pride Marchers: "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!"
Lisa Simpson: "You do this every year! We are used to it!"


Exactly.

Oh, and apropos of nothing, I love the username "nebulawindphone." It's so evocative, even if I'm not sure of what.

Don't think about it too hard. You might discover it's nausea that it's evoking. Or itchiness.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:47 AM on February 28, 2007


My personal opinion is that the Mardi Gras has done heaps of good in promoting acceptance of GLBTs amongst the wider community, despite opposition from religious zealots & the blue rinse set, at least down under.

I heard somebody comment once that the reason this happens here, and not in America*, is that Australia was originally populated mostly by convicts, and later largely by refugees & economic migrants. Add a strong streak of rebellious Irish spirit, and the resulting attitudes of "support for the underdog" & "a fair go for all" have become an oft-repeated hallmark of the Aussie character. Perhaps for these reasons, I think that there is widespread community support for the Mardi Gras & GLBT community.

In contrast, America was originally populated by religious puritans seeking somewhere to put their fundamentalist ideas into practice, and is only slowly managing to break free from those moralistic & prejudiced foundations.

Aside from that, what matty said.

* disclaimer: I am speaking out of my ass where American parades & attitudes are concerned. Only relaying what some guy said.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:12 PM on February 28, 2007


(ps - it's not for nothing that our national hero, if we have one, was an Irish guy who slapped together some iron armour & took on the police, who had been harassing him & his family. cf: Ned Kelly)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:23 PM on February 28, 2007


It's also worth noting that the Mardi Gras is the biggest festival in Sydney. The commercial interest in the event and the benefits that it brings Sydney are substantial.

It's interesting to watch capitalism absorb everything.
posted by sien at 3:28 PM on February 28, 2007


Yes. First there is the direct economic benefit from the influx of tourists from overseas & interstate. Second, like the NYE fireworks, it is good publicity in general, and keeps Sydney in the mind of potential tourists - in particular, GLBT tourists who might visit at other times of the year, knowing that the city (and Australia, in general) is an open & tolerant enough place to hold such an event. Not to mention being a hell of a fun & festive place, too.

The economic benefit has a handy effect of allowing politicans to get firmly behind gays, "in the financial interests of the State", of course. The only people who bother to oppose it any more seem to be the hardcore fundies and the senile geriatrics who defeated the Japanese in order that we might live in freedom.

Interestingly, it seems as if the parade is no longer being broadcast on (free-to-air, government) TV, as it traditionally has been. Probably just a fuckup by the politics within the organising committee, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are vested interests involved in having more people turn up in person in Darlingithurts and fork out their dollars, instead of hosting their own Mardi-GraBBQs at home.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 PM on February 28, 2007


The whole corporate angle has meaning--it's a symbol of corp. progress and that we're fully a desirable market

Being a "desirable market" of consumers in the eyes of the corporations is now something to be proud about? I guess you gotta take your victories where you can...
posted by Jimbob at 6:01 PM on February 28, 2007


"We're kinky! We're DINKy! We're all going shopping!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:24 PM on February 28, 2007


jimbob, it's also that corporations have been far ahead of govts, at least here. Domestic partner benefits, anti-harrassment policies, marketing to us as if we weren't evil pariahs, etc---all these things have been going on for decades now, as opposed to political and legal progress, which lags far behind. Corporations have been good to us--and we're very loyal and thankful.

...Perhaps for these reasons, I think that there is widespread community support for the Mardi Gras & GLBT community.

In contrast, America ...


I think both our countries may be in the same places--more and more social and cultural and corp acceptance, but not that much legal and political progress, except locallly in cities. You don't have marriage or civil unions nationally, do you?
posted by amberglow at 9:51 PM on February 28, 2007


HRC : Corporate Equality Index
posted by amberglow at 10:00 PM on February 28, 2007


You don't have marriage or civil unions nationally, do you?

Civil unions in all Australian states & territories, apparently. That was the wiki wording, and news to me. Probably overstating it a bit...I think the situation is more like "a basket of legal rights somewhat equivalent to marriage or defacto relationships, but we're not going to give the union any kind of name". The current PM is very conservative, and waffles on endlessly about "the sanctity of marriage" etc (his papier-mache image will surely be seen in the parade).

marketing to us as if we weren't evil pariahs

Heh - it's always funny to see how differently the same company will position itself or its products in mainstream & queer media - all those wannabe gangstas would *never* be wearing brandX if they saw how it was presented in The Star Observer...
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:34 PM on February 28, 2007


detailed wiki ref
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:38 PM on February 28, 2007


ah, thanks, Ubu--you don't have it, except as Domestic Partnership laws in certain cities, it seems (like us)


related, building on the example of Gay Pride, from Orcinus: ... Could it be time to adapt the idea, and start a national movement of Liberal Pride celebrations? ...
posted by amberglow at 11:22 PM on February 28, 2007


Could it be time to adapt the idea, and start a national movement of Liberal Pride celebrations? ...

Futile; it would schizm into 7 competing parades, and no-one would be able to decide which route to march... ;)
posted by Jimbob at 4:29 PM on March 1, 2007


And we all know who is to blame.

* shakes fist at the People's Front of Liberalia *
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:04 PM on March 1, 2007


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