Around mid-afternoon I took a break from activities at Sydney Mardi Gras Fair Day, and went for a walk down the street. I’d been at Fair Day for a few hours, working on the stall we have, raising awareness and raising funds for ABC Pride’s float in the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.
ABC Pride is a staff-led initiative, quite separate from the ABC, and so our float in Mardi Gras is being self-funded through a variety of activities, including trivia nights, bake sales, and merchandise sales. No taxpayer funds! My job for the day was as photographer and schmoozer. But after a few hours, I felt it was time for a break.
I had no particular plan in mind, I just wanted to get away from it for a little bit. I ended up calling into a nearby pub to use their bathroom, and to have a beer. For a few moments I sat silently enjoying my beer, loving the air-conditioning, and scrolling through some of the photographs I’d taken.
It was then a similarly aged couple asked if I could join them, as I had a couple of seats at my table free.
As I was decked out in the “rainbow gear”, it wasn’t long before they asked if I was enjoying Fair Day.
They were also attending, as support for their almost 19 year old son. “We’ve been a few times when he was younger, but this is first time now that he’s eighteen”, the woman from Western Sydney told me. “Our family friends also have a gay son, and they live down the coast”, she added, “but we can’t talk about it”. The son has also become estranged from his school friends. “Unlike his sisters who are still friends with the girls they went to school with, he’s had to make new friends”, the mother told me, as we chatted over the next hour or so about everything I guess she would have liked to talk about with her friends.
It was a poignant reminder that people still need support around people “coming out” (both children and parents). Hundreds of years of conditioning, hatred, violence etc, isn’t easily overcome with things like changes to the marriage act. They sure as hell help, but for many individuals it’s still a significant journey. I’m hoping they’ll follow up with some of the organisations like PFLAG, which will allow them to meet some other people in similar situations, and to be able to have the discussions they so obviously wanted to have.
So yeah, the Mardi Gras season is here for another year, and it all started this weekend on Friday night, when I attended Queer Contemporary at the National Art School.
Though not “Mardi Gras-related”, I also travelled to Newcastle last night for the closing night of “Between Two Worlds“, the exhibition curated by my friend Kate. One of the artists, Greg Leong performed his one person show which covered on his life as a gay man, as an Asian man, and as an artist. One of the highlights was his performance of both “Home Among The Gumtrees” and “Waltzing Matilda” in Cantonese.