My big gay June
What is Sydney’s gayest month? The answer would be February, wouldn’t it? There’s a parade and a big party – lots of other attractions for straight people to enjoy. That might have been the case once, but now the big gay month is June. Yep, bang in the middle of winter. June was quite a biggie for me.
The first LGBTI event I attended was a farewell from our community to the outgoing Governor of New South Wales, Marie Bashir. (I should call her Dame Marie. Yes, the Dead Hand of Abbottorial Endowment has touched her.) Someone recently asked on a forum, “What does the Governor actually do?” The truthful answer is: he or she performs all the ceremonial tasks that our elected leaders are too busy or congenitally unsuited to do. What Marie Bashir did was to bring her shining humanity to the office, and particularly as a strong, genuine supporter and advocate for the LGBTI community. She was on our side to an extent that very few in public office are. Her retirement is a great loss to us and to many others.
I performed a silly little ditty for the occasion. Part of it went like this:
Best wishes to General Hurley,
Our New South Wales Governor to be.
He will have to get up pretty early
To equal Her Excellency.
Luckily, army personnel do like to get up pretty early.
I recently read that General Hurley will be paid twice as much as his predecessor to fill the position. In the market-driven mindset of our current leadership that would not seem to be much of a bargain, and it’s certainly not linked to GDP. Let’s be honest: the General or anyone else would be hard pressed to be twice as good a Governor as Dame Marie. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival has the right idea: their new figurehead next year is Barry Humphries. Why didn’t we go down that path? Dame Edna would have been so.... memorable! She’s already a Dame, and the Queen (who the Governor represents) is an old mate. A missed opportunity there.
[Image] Phil Scott with Dame Marie Bashir. Photo: William Yang
The next night it was the Aurora Ball. Sydney Town Hall looked more amazing than ever, and the guests took a lot of trouble with their masks. I have nothing but admiration for Wayne Cox, David Wilkins and everyone who worked so tirelessly to make the night a success – which it was, raising over $60,000 for gay and lesbian charities. If you have not been to Aurora, you’ve missed out on something special. It was fabulous and I had a wonderful, boozy time.
I do have one tiny complaint, unrelated to any of the people mentioned in the previous paragraph. There was, as usual, a keynote speaker. (One year it was Sir Ian McKellen, or ‘Serena’ McKellen as his friends call him.) I don’t know who this year’s speaker was or what she said, as I was backstage waiting to go on. She obviously had a good story to tell – otherwise she wouldn’t have been there – and got big laughs early on in her speech. But... (There’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there!) ...when you’re part of a tightly scheduled evening, when other acts have to follow you and retain the attention of the crowd, when hundreds of main courses are piling up in the kitchen ready to be served at a certain time – on the dot, so to speak – you don’t keep talking for more than double your allotted time! It’s called professionalism. Nothing can be said in forty-five minutes that can’t be said in twenty.
That’s just a bit of perspective. Marie Bashir understood it better than most.