Mardi Gras

“I’m running late. The bus was late, but I’ll be there shortly”, I told a friend by text message.

I haven’t really participated much in this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, so we had planned to catch up for a beer and a bit of “Mardi Gras” spirit at Sydney’s legendary Imperial Hotel. “I think Sunday afternoon is the best option. And as the Imperial is about to turn straight, maybe we should meet there for their Sunday afternoon retro session” a friend told me in am email. “Turning straight? Just like all my exboyfriends”, I joked in reply.

But as I arrived at Erskineville, Graeme said, “It’s closed”. Instantly that brought back memories of that day in November 2007 when we had planned to meet at The Newtown Hotel, only to discover the bar had closed suddenly. Thankfully, that wasn’t repeated at The Imperial, just a later opening time than advertised.

What a relief. Because we had a lovely afternoon of chatting, listening to music, and enjoying the comic ramblings of the resident drag queen, Felicity.

In this modern world of online relationships, Grindr, and the like I hope there’s still room for “gay bars”. I think it’s fantastic that (in the inner city at least) it’s all okay for gays and straights to socialise in the same bars. I think it’s fantastic that male or female couples can, by and large, show affection to each other without retribution. Obviously that’s not the case in many locations, but most definitely in the inner-city part of Sydney in which I live. But still there are times when it’s nice to be with “my people” and to share a sense of community.

That’s also how I feel about Mardi Gras. Even though I didn’t participate much this year, I think it’s really important that it continues to exist. Even if we achieve full equality in my lifetime (and that’s possible), I still think it’s good to have these moments of individual community celebration. Even if there’s equality, it shouldn’t mean mean everyone’s the same.

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