Yay or nay: Mixed reaction to Mardi Gras name change
Changes to the name and logo of Sydney’s iconic annual gay and lesbian Mardi Gras Parade has been met by a mixed reaction, after the organisation behind the event earlier this week decided to re-brand it as the ‘Sydney Mardi Gras’.
The changes also sees the festival’s corporate title 'New Mardi Gras' revert back to its original name of 'Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras', with the corporation’s chair, Peter Urmson, telling SX that the move reaffirms “our history as a primarily gay and lesbian event”.
While some welcomed the new shorter event name as a sign of greater inclusiveness and changing community attitudes, Dr Jo Harrison, a participant at the first ever Mardi Gras in 1978 during which participants were brutally assaulted and arrested, told SX that she was worried that the Parade had been “effectively ‘de-gayed’”.
Others, such as former Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras President and 1996 Mardi Gras Hall of Fame inductee Richard Cobden, have meanwhile labelled the changes as a “big a blunder as the fiasco of two years ago when the Parade and Party were split”.
Respected JoyFM broadcaster Doug Pollard told SX that he agreed with Cobden.
“The whole makeover smells of making the event acceptable to mainstream corporates and the mainstream tourist industry,” he said.
Marriage equality advocates Alex Greenwich, from Australian Marriage Equality, and Shelley Argent, from PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), however have welcomed the changes.
“The renewed focus on inclusion will help me encourage more parents to play a part in the parade,” Argent said.
Sen Raj, from the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, told SX that while the “important political dimension” and history of the movement should not be forgotten, the changes could potentially facilitate dialogue on the evolving nature of the LGBTIQ communities.
Urmson told SX that the Parade name change was “adding not subtracting from what we do”.
“We’re also recognising a world that is gradually becoming more inclusive, where huge numbers of people volunteering for us, marching in the Parade and cheering us on come from a much broader spectrum and in which younger people are much less keen to be labelled,” he said.
[Pictured] Chris Johnson has the new Sydney Mardi Gras logo tattooed on his arm at Bondi Ink last Wednesday as part of a series of events launching the event’s new name and logo. Photo: Getty Images