Once a year, the Mardi Gras takes place in Sydney to celebrate LGBTIQ people everywhere. Shona takes a look beyond the masks and costumes in order to get a better understanding of what it's all about - and she likes what she finds.
You don’t need a big parade and lots of shiny costumes to respect diversity and accept difference.
WARNING: What I’m about to say might leave you feeling shocked and appalled.
I don’t like to dress up at costume parties.
Wigs make my head sweat and it’s almost impossible to dance in a toga. I have nightmares of the sheet falling right off, leaving me on the dance floor - nude and none the wiser - dancing to Gangnam Style. I might don some face paint or cat ears if you’re lucky, but generally speaking I like to avoid any kind of effort to dress up as anything that’s not me.
What’s the dealio?
Why, then, am I always so keen to get involved with Mardi Gras? Every year when this event comes around I feel an unfamiliar, and yet irrepressible, urge to roll my face in glitter and wear a rainbow cape. If you’re not already aware, the Sydney Mardi Gras is an excellent yearly event that celebrates and supports the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) communities of Australia, and the world. It reminds us that our sexuality and gender are important parts of our identities and worth celebrating, but also that gender and sexuality shouldn’t matter when it comes to forming an opinion about someone. There are more important things, like their capacity for loyalty or honesty. Or their hilarious sense of humour.
But the benefits of Mardi Gras go even deeper than that. It’s probably the only time that I would dress up as a taco with pride, so there’s got to be something more going on here.
For all of the people
The truth is, there are benefits of the Mardi Gras that stretch far beyond any single community. This event isn't just for LGBTIQ people, it's for everybody. It celebrates the traits and values that every society should thrive to possess: a love of diversity, respect, acceptance, and pride in who we are as individuals. Not only is the Mardi Gras one of the only places on Earth that someone can put on a costume as an expression of their true self, it’s also a valuable opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of respect towards others. Not to mention there are sequins everywhere, and I wholeheartedly believe that sequins are really just candy for the eyes.
What are your Mardi Gras plans?
So this year on the 1st of March, when everyone is getting dressed up in their Mardi Gras best, I invite you to join them. I know I’ll be strutting down Oxford Street with the ReachOut.com crew, enjoying the feeling of standing in support of LGBTIQ people and belonging to something so warm and fuzzy. If your town doesn’t have a Pride festival or anything else in place to celebrate the LGBTIQ community, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t need a big parade and lots of shiny costumes to respect diversity and accept difference. All you need is an open mind. And maybe some glitter. Because it’s not a Mardi Gras without glitter.