We cannot expect SBS to mention all 195 floats – because, let’s face it, it would be saturated television – but every year they do let some amazing ones slip through the cracks. But, that’s where I come in.
I’ve trundled through the broadcast and noted all the ones they missed and then cut down the list to a well-rounded 11 worth mentioning. These are clubs and organisations that are doing amazing things. And, best of all, they’re listed in the order they came. For the complete list of all 195 floats, click here.
Author’s note: Conflict of interest: I’d like to make clear that I am a member of The Pollys Club. I’ve included them in the list because their work is instrumental to the LGBTQI community and because they have a long proud history within Australian queer culture.
This is one of the largest lesbian football clubs in the world. And for noting, football = soccer here. They pride themselves on providing an inclusive environment for women, whether they’re lesbian or not, and promoting health and wellbeing.
“We’re all about football for all,” reads their website. “We’re a friendly bunch. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, the Flying Bats will find a space for you on the pitch.”
These people have been providing anonymous healthcare to those who are most at risk in the community. They target “at risk” young people who live street-based lives as sex workers and those who inject drugs. And they have been doing this for over 30 years above the Darlinghurst Fire Station.
It was established in April 1987 as a NSW State Government initiative following recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Prostitution in NSW.
They are an informal clan of like-minded individuals who hate being cooped up at home. Australia’s Gay Nomads is a concept brought about by a small number of LGBTQI people who travelled the open road to regional gay and lesbian festivals.
“The events themselves soon became only a part of it for us,” said co-founder Glenn Watson. “You form wonderful bonds within the mini-communities that spring up in caravan parks and campsites during a festival. You never know who will pitch their tent beside you!”
Organising an event is open to any individual Facebook member of Australia’s Gay Nomads. Just shout out if you are going away and if you want people to join you then let fellow Gay Nomads know on their Facebook page.
This charity is dedicated to Baylin Hoskins, an 18-year-old who took his own life following years of dealing with depression and anxiety. At age 16 he came out to his mother as bisexual, where she supported him, and then to his schoolmates, who cast him away following the revelation. Before his suicide, he partied and drank, making sure he was tipsy before leaving home – almost like a defence mechanism. And then he partied one last time.
“That was the last time we were to see our boy,” wrote Baylin’s mother, Hayey Hoskins. “It would be less than 3 weeks later, less than 3 weeks to his 19th birthday that the Police would come knocking on my door. And the day that our world will forever be changed. And the day that we became different people, a different family. An incomplete family.
“Gender or sexual identification, depression, anxiety are all things that are not going away. They must be addressed. They must be talked about. They must be normalised. So that our children grow up with acceptance of themselves. And acceptance of others.
“It’s really a very simple concept.”
Wayside began as a foundation for those who were marginalised in the inner eastern community of Kings Cross. It began in the 60s, during a time when Kings Cross was becoming a growing hotbed of disadvantaged, impoverished and distraught citizens. Today it has grown to become a foundation of support for all disadvantaged, marginalised and vulnerable in the local community. From homeless to drug-affected, to gambling addicts, and to those within the LGBTQI community.
“For 53 years, many members of the LGBTQI community have been visiting The Wayside Chapel,” said a spokesperson for Wayside. “We couldn’t think of a better way to demonstrate our support than to take to the streets of Sydney with a fabulous colourful and fun 40th Anniversary Mardi Gras entry.
“The Wayside Chapel has a ‘no us and them’ policy which will feed into the Mardi Gras’ creative concept for the 40th Anniversary Parade. Titled ‘By Your Side’, Wayside Chapel’s concept involves up to 40 participants walking side by side with our LGBTQI community – including staff, visitors and volunteers.”
This organisation aims to promote a positive image of people living with HIV, by eliminating prejudice, isolation, stigma and discrimination. This is done through providing information, targeted referrals and advocate to change systems and practices that discriminate against people living with HIV.
“We walked this year under the theme ‘Silence=Death’,” a Positive Life NSW spokesperson said. “Today, more than ever, it is vitally important for people with HIV to speak up about HIV and for all our communities to speak out about HIV.”
Their main goals are to empower people living with HIV in NSW by providing important information around issues; to help create change within political legislation, and to promote a positive image of what it means to live with HIV. They also constantly seek to work closely with health organisations, whether HIV-specific or not, within the community and other relevant organisations.
TIM, or The Institute of Many is Australia’s largest grassroots movement for people living with HIV. They provide support to those with HIV and create events to break stigmas.
As well as providing online communities via Facebook, where people, whether HIV positive or not, can talk to like-minded individuals, TIM also hosts events across Australia.
“Events range from casual drinks at the pub to outdoor/cultural events, and are open to both positive people and their allies,” their website reads. “Attending a TIM event is not an admission of your status.
“Through the confidential Facebook groups and meet up events, TIM is an opportunity to make friends, talk, share knowledge and skills, and to bust some outdated myths about living with HIV.”
This is a research institute located at the University of NSW and is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
“We were established in 1986 in response to the then emerging HIV epidemic,” their website reads. “We now contribute to knowledge on a broad range of diseases, including viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections.
“Our primary work relates to the coordination of national surveillance programs, population health and epidemiological research, clinical and behavioural research and clinical trials.
“Our world-class team comprises over 260 public health, clinical and laboratory scientists, research assistants and postgraduate students.”
It is Australia’s only lesbian magazine, sharing lesbian news and current affairs alongside lesbian lifestyle tips since 1989. And that’s been their focus since they began nearly 30 years ago. Their float consisted of 60 dancing brides and grooms behind a travelling chapel with drag queen Felicity Frockaccino waving out.
Reading on the Mardi Gras running order located on the MG website, LOTL said: “Dancing to the rhythm of a traditional Austrian waltz, LOTL congratulates the first lesbian couple who got legally married in Australia. The lucky couple won a honeymoon to the beautiful and romantic Vienna.”
While Mardi Gras has always provided a stage for political statements, The Pollys Club has remained in the background as a non-political, non-discriminatory organisation. And it is the oldest and longest running LGBTQI organisation in Australia. Their main purpose is to provide a safe space for the LGBTQI community where they can dance and party and forget their troubles while raising funds for local, national and international charities that contribute to the LGBTQI community.
“Since 1964, The Pollys Club has donated well over $400,000 in grant funding to deserving charities,” a Pollys Club spokesperson said. “From the children’s hospital in Camperdown to the RSPCA, to AIDS charities and lately to organisations assisting those living with HIV.
“In 2017, we gave away $15,000.”
The Pollys Club would also like to thank the Inner West Council in Sydney’s west for their ongoing support, dating back to their first dance in 1964 at Petersham Town Hall.
It’s a conglomeration of scientists and engineers who identify as something within the LGBTQI spectrum. Their aim is to connect LGBTQI professionals and student engaged in science and engineering in Australia. And they provide it whether you’re out of the closet or not.
“There are a number of scientists and engineers who are not “out” at work for various reasons,” their website reads. “In fact, it is unfortunately quite common. Our members come from both sides of the closet door so it’s likely you’ll find someone in a similar situation to yourself at our events.”
But while they are happy and welcoming towards those who remain in the closet, and anyone would agree that there are circumstances that call for it, they do believe that the best way to work is when you are out and proud.
“Being authentic at work allows you to grow to your full potential in your career,” their website reads. “Further, being open to others allows a trust to be developed between yourself and your work colleagues. The time and energy spent in fabricating stories to cover up your life outside of work results in productivity loss for both yourself and your company. Turing Circle encourages everyone to achieve their full potential by being authentic to themselves.”
And if you must know, “Turing” comes from Alan Turing, an English computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist who cracked intercepted coded messages from the Nazis during World War 2, saving countless lives and ending the war. Oh, and he was gay too.