The Talented Mr Rigby
Kevin ‘Kabi’ Rigby has been a creative and philanthropic force in Sydney’s LGBTI community since 1988. His numerous fundraisers, many Mardi Gras Parade entries and various community collaborations have earned him a double nomination at this year’s Honour Awards. By Jason Bartlett.
Honour Award nominee Kevin ‘Kabi’ Rigby has made a life out of tackling head-on the people he dubs “the haters” with his own unique brand of creativity, parody and fun.
A creative force in the LGBTI community since 1988, the 50-year-old Mardi Gras Parade stalwart had no idea he was nominated for not one, but two, 2013 Honour awards until he was contacted by SX this week.
“Thanks for the good news,” he quipped.
“I guess when I know (officially) I will feel honoured; pleasantly surprised and proud.”
Rigby is up for a Media/Arts/Entertainment award, as well as a Health and Wellbeing Award.
It’s all a long way from his upbringing in Geelong – where he grew up with his family after they emigrated as “10 pound poms” in 1966.
The talented Mr Rigby moved to Sydney in 1987 – and has called the Harbour City home ever since.
He has had an affinity with Mardi Gras ever since he watched his first parade from the awning of the Exchange Hotel in 1988 – it was a life-changing experience – for him and the event itself.
“I just fell into it really and got swept along in the torrent,” he said.
“My first MG parade I watched. The following year I knew I had to be involved so I volunteered down at the Mardi Gras Rushcutters Bay workshop during the Tully/McDiarmid/Fish-era making cellophane feathers for the cupie dolls which escorted the famous Fred Nile head.
“The combined effectiveness of parody and politics really struck a chord with me.”
Rigby and his brand – ethel yarwood enterprises – has been combining parody, politics and creativity ever since; conceptualising, designing and implementing parade entries every year and playing a major role in other community initiatives including the ‘Hop Yourself Stupid’ Easter fundraiser.
The popular Easter event has many happy memories for Rigby who feels it helped “make a difference” to many in the dark days of HIV.
He also played a pivotal role in the recent Mardi Gras “Say Something” campaign which captured the heart of the LGTBI community at a pivotal time in our history.
“This campaign had its genesis in 2002,” he said.
“It was a project Greg Logan and I worked on for the theme of that year but it wasn’t taken up by Mardi Gras.
“It is how I view parade, as the opportunity to say something about what is important to us and how we view the world and its issues.
“It challenged the sponsors to say something about us and justify why they deserve our attention.
“It also worked across so many parts of the festival, theatre, art, where the practitioners wish to say something to their audiences. This message deserved revisiting in 2010 and Mardi Gras took it on as the season theme.
“And I expect at some time we may need to remind Mardi Gras, the community, the board, the employees, the government and the sponsors again.”
When asked what drives his creativity and community spirit the answer is simple: “The personal satisfaction of making a difference”.
“I’m just more of a participant than a spectator. Knowing people will support our crazy endeavours.”
[Pictured] Kevin ‘Kabi’ Rigby. Photo: Allan Vella
HONOUR NOMINATIONS CLOSING SOON
Honour is NSW’s annual LGBTI awards, recognising people and organisation whose work and/or achievements have made a difference in the lives of others in the community.
People can nominate themselves or the organisation you work for or a person or organisation you admire.
Nominations can be submitted in six categories covering the business, health, education, community, legal, political, media and cultural sectors, and youth sectors.
Nominations are free and can be submitted on the Honour website.
Nominations close at 5pm, Wednesday, August 28.
Now in its seventh year, the Honour Awards are an annual gala event for ACON and the Aurora Group.
This year’s awards will be presented at a gala ceremony at The Ivy in Sydney on Thursday, September 19.
Three finalists from each category will join a host of government, media, entertainment and community personalities in celebrating NSW’s LGBTI community.
To make a nomination, go to www.honourawards.com.au.