Australia | News | Sydney

'Sydney Mardi Gras' Dumps 'Gay' and 'Lesbian' from Name in Rebranding Controversy


Sydney, Australia's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has been 'de-gayed'. From henceforth, it will be known as Sydney Mardi Gras, organizers announced late last week.

Watch a video report on the name change, AFTER THE JUMP...

Writes the Sydney Morning Herald:

Insisting that the heart of the annual festival remained gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people, Mr Urmson said Mardi Gras was inviting any and all comers who wanted to celebrate diversity and ''the right to be''. This would include opening parade floats to new faces who ''share our values''.

At the launch yesterday, Mr Urmson acknowledged that long-standing supporters might feel the new approach would water down the event's celebration of sexual difference but said Mardi Gras had to evolve with its community. ''I think that whilst we are first and foremost a GLBTQI community organisation, we also are very open to all of our friends that do not necessarily identify within that alphabet soup,'' he said.

Organisers hope that reaching out will rejuvenate the event, which has failed to attract younger people and lost relevance in its core community.

MardigraslogoThe changes have infuriated some.

Same Same reports:

Former Mardi Gras President Richard Cobden has been particularly vocal. “This morning’s Sydney Morning Herald front page sums it up: Mardi Gras goes straight,” he tells Same Same.

“Neither the organisation, and especially not this Board or staff, had any permission or mandate to make Mardi Gras straight. [Mardi Gras Chair] Peter Urmson says ‘this is our gift to the city’. It was not his to give.”

The most immediate and visible result of what they have done will be to remove the most frequent, favourable, beneficial and powerful uses of the words ‘gay and lesbian’, Cobden adds. “For 20-plus years we have been able to force the mainstream media to call it the GAY AND LESBIAN MARDI GRAS. They had to say the words. For a long time they did not want to but we made them. That has been thrown away.”

Check out a report on the relaunch from Bondi Beach, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. The Mardi Gras Committee actually includes a number of homophobes. They are not remotely interested in gay rights.

    As for the event itself, it ceased being relevant when it became a parade of sun-tanned beach bunnies who work out at the gym in Crown Street. Most of the parade participants are fetishists who can't wait to attend the next sex party.

    Posted by: jason | Nov 21, 2011 8:03:23 AM

  2. @Jason ... you sound like a bitter fat queen

    Posted by: michael | Nov 21, 2011 8:25:58 AM

  3. The discussion omits the interminable warring over whether it should sometimes be called the Lesbian & Gay Mardi Gras, or the Queer Mardi Gras, or the Gay, Transgender & Lesbian Mardi Gras or GLBTI Mardi Gras, or (my favourite) QUILTBAG Mardi Gras.

    If half the participants knew that "Gras" meant "Fat" then they'd abandon the whole thing in a heartbeat.

    Posted by: MikeW | Nov 21, 2011 8:29:12 AM

  4. I can't judge this case, but being inclusive (and "gay" becoming irrelevant in the end) is definitely the way to go. From the video, it hardly looked like this event was being "de-gayed," let along "going straight."

    Posted by: Jack | Nov 21, 2011 8:33:24 AM

  5. We can trade Mardi Gras for marriage equality. Deal?

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Nov 21, 2011 8:48:32 AM

  6. This seems like a non-issue. Look at the ads for the event, it's most assuredly still LGBT. I think this is a case of all tourist dollars being created equal. If they can attract a few more straights allies of LGBT rights looking to have some fun and celebrate diversity, good on 'em.

    Posted by: ShawntheSheep | Nov 21, 2011 8:58:47 AM

  7. They're not saying go back in the closet, that's impossible, they're saying be out & proud, but focus on our sameness and our humanity instead of our differences.

    Posted by: johnny | Nov 21, 2011 9:06:37 AM


    Is there no easy way to sum up the diversity of the community than using such a long string of letters? So hard to say.

    Posted by: Charles | Nov 21, 2011 9:19:58 AM

  9. Diversity is Diversity we have GLBT for a reason just like we have Gay Pride for a reason. You take that out than what do you have. Another Straight pride day? Never given in to trying to be something that the homophobes know we arE NOT.....STRAIGHT

    Posted by: xzavier | Nov 21, 2011 9:33:02 AM

  10. Sorry, but for someone who has attended several times, this does make a difference. This has always been a gay (in the broadest LBGT term) event. To my knowledge it has always been inclusive to all who wish to participate. If heterosexuals are afraid to participate because it's called the Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras, then obviously they're not THAT inclusive and open minded. Here's an idea, let's rename the Super Bowl the Special Bowl and the Oscars "that statue show" and maybe New York Pride a summer parade....... Why not rename the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade...then more vegetarians might create a float. How about the Harsh Winter Parade.... and move it to Tuesday.

    This is Sydney's Pride Parade. Why strip them of that?

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Nov 21, 2011 9:33:56 AM

  11. Another event that we, the gays, make it better and great and now the straights want to take it away from us and claim ownership!

    Posted by: Chris in Irvine | Nov 21, 2011 11:40:57 AM

  12. FAIL. If they wanted to be more inclusive to allies, they should have called it the Mardi Gras Pride parade. It takes the words gay and lesbian out, which considering that the words bi, trans, etc. were not included is for the best, since the name wasn't even inclusive to our own community. But if they added Pride to the name of the festival/parade, they'd put in a word that our community understands as the alphabet soup, but doesn't technically exclude anyone else. Works for every other city's parade... Why did no one on their board think of this?

    Posted by: Graphicjack | Nov 21, 2011 12:00:06 PM

  13. I like the 'give us marriage equality and you can de-gay the carnival' idea. They LOVE the pink dollars but they want the family ones too. It'll become some plastic PG13 thing and everybody cool will stop going. that's always what happens when the dead hand of corporatism touches real culture or spontaneity of any kind. So go ahead: legalize our families and we'll let yours come.

    Posted by: Steerpike | Nov 21, 2011 12:02:31 PM

  14. Aussie gays should boycott the event and commence with their own Gay Mardi Gras. Straight or gay, partiers would obviously find the Gay Mardi Gras far more fun.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Nov 21, 2011 12:16:58 PM

  15. I think there is some overreaction here. I don't see this as an attempt to de-gay the event. With that said, I don't agree with the new title of the event. It should be called the Mardi Gras Pride parade. Something that indicates the connection the event has with our community. Because, it ultimately is our event. I understand not wanting to have a title that is seemingly exclusionary towards bisexuals, transgendered individuals, straights, but they have gone too far with the new title.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 21, 2011 12:22:51 PM

  16. Sounds more like the organizers are looking and concerned with more corporate money and business interests than anything.
    Sydney Pride Mardi Gras sounds inclusive to me.

    I was fortunate to attend in 2005 and as a oft-jaded NYer I was thrilled at the political and entertainment energy of the parade in particular and the events surrounding it.

    This was a bad move. and I resent the scapegoating of to many letters spoil the branding meme that is being used.

    SYDNEY PRIDE MARDI GRAS looks good to me. but may not to Fosters or whichever Insurance Co who wants to buy advertising.

    Posted by: mcNnyc | Nov 21, 2011 1:13:08 PM

  17. This event os overrated imho. Many pride parades in the states are larger and just as fun, if not more than.

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 21, 2011 2:44:59 PM

  18. The idea that there are homophobes in charge is rubbish Jason. This is an attempt to be more inclusive of the full range of LGBTQIs. The organisation that puts on the event is run by them, has constitutional objectives to further their interests.

    Posted by: Dan | Nov 21, 2011 4:44:47 PM

  19. Why should this surprise anyone? In the United States gay rights organizations are being bullied by transexual self-professed heterosexuals into de-gaying of all names of organizations, parades, etc. It's sad that in the zeal to be inclusive, gay has now become a dirty word.

    Posted by: Phineas Talbot | Nov 21, 2011 6:11:30 PM

  20. It hasn't been de-gayed!!!! Go on their website and check out their program - as queer as ever. And the organisation remains an LGBTQI one - that's written in its constitution - an organisation that promotes LGBTQI events and interests.

    People all over the world call it Sydney Mardi Gras already. And everyone knows it's an LGBTQI event.

    As someone who identifies as queer and has long felt sidelined by the use of the umbrella term 'gay and lesbian', I think it's a good change.

    And I think it's a forward-thinking change - even though we don't yet have full equal rights, and we don't live in a world that unanimously loves and celebrates us, we can be a shining beacon that shows the rest of the world how to love - infinitely, generously, with a full awareness of what unites us and what makes us different.

    Posted by: Panache | Nov 21, 2011 8:29:57 PM

  21. and while you're at it why not re-brand the Eiffel Tower into just the "Tower" or the Statute of Liberty into just the "Statute"..NAMES are identities. It's what connects people to events and places. De-gaying the worlds largest GAY event is the worst idea ever and it sounds apologetic if not darn right homophobic

    Posted by: MarkBoston | Nov 22, 2011 12:56:14 PM

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