Happy Mardi Gras to the out and proud gay athletes and their supporters who marched and manned floats for their sports clubs and teams in the 2018 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. This year no less than nineteen clubs and sports associations took part in the parade that once protested the oppression of LGBTQI people but has now evolved into a celebration of strength, courage, equality, friendship, community, safety, love and culture. The Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is probably the most important event on the annual Sydney calendar and an opportunity for all queer people (including gay and lesbian athletes and sport people) to show their rainbow colours and have a superb time.
The nineteen organisations represented in the parade this year are described below (descriptions borrowed from the Mardi Gras web page). Check them all out. If you are a gay sports person looking for a team or a member of the straight community who would like to contribute to the work that LGBTQI sports clubs do, then get in touch with the group that grabs you. The “Team Sydney” web page even lists many more LGBTQI sports associations that might be more to your liking.
The Flying Bats Women’s Football Club – Dancing Batgirls
“The Flying Bats Football Club is an LGBTIQ+ women’s community football club. We’re the largest lesbian football club in the world. Through football we promote inclusivity, health and wellbeing, and creating a sense of community. Whilst we predominantly identify as lesbian, we welcome all women – lesbian, queer, bi, straight, cis, trans, intersex – to come and play football and socialise.”
Melbourne Marching Girls – ‘A League of Their Own’ – Women in Aussie Rules Mark Their Mark
The Melbourne Marching Girls have been an active social/community group for Melbourne’s LBTIQ women for 18 years. In re-forming for the 40th Anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade the Melbourne Marching Girls pay tribute to all the women who play/have played AFL Football and now have “a league of their own”.
Sydney Convicts Rugby – The Game They Play in Heaven
Formed in 2004, the Sydney Convicts are Australia’s first gay and inclusive rugby union club. The Convicts are committed to building a competitive, social and diverse club which welcomes players from all levels of experience. It’s said that “Rugby is the game they play in heaven” so expect an angelic-style float from the players this year.
The VR: Queer Roller Derby – Wheelie Ready to Roll
The VR was formed from the desire within our community to foster the already inclusive attitude within Roller Derby and to create safe and fun events for our queer participants. This year’s float will be a nod to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!
Lifesavers with Pride – Bringing the nation together – at the beach
“Lifesavers with Pride is Surf Life Saving’s LGBT advisory group. We represent the LGBT members within lifesaving and present the public face to the LGBT community for lifesaving. All our marchers will be carrying large flags identifying the beaches from around the country that make up Surf Life Saving. We will also have nippers in our parade for the first time, representing the lifesavers of tomorrow who, like the rest of us, just want to see role models on the beach today regardless of their sexuality.”
Sydney Stingers – We’ve come a long way together/Praise the Evolution
The Sydney Stingers are Australia’s #1 LGBTQI water polo club with four teams playing in the NSW metropolitan competition. And they love getting into our speedos for a cause! The Stingers’ 2018 Parade float concept is to show the evolution of men’s swimwear over time.
Melbourne Surge Water Polo Club – Evolution of Water Polo
Melbourne Surge Water Polo is Victoria’s only gay and lesbian water polo club. It’s an inclusive, fun-loving and active team which competes locally in Victoria’s state competitions, have interstate matches against our sister club the Sydney Stingers and even play on the world stage at the Gay Games. Melbourne Surge will be partnering with the Sydney Stingers to create an extended parade entry, continuing the tradition of Melbourne Surge proudly marching as one with their sister club the Sydney Stingers.
Sydney Silverbacks Wrestling Club – GLOW – The Gays and Lesbians of Wrestling
The Sydney Silverbacks are a gay/ straight-friendly wrestling club that will be celebrating 25 years of operation in 2018. We are the state’s largest wrestling club and aim to promote the sport of wrestling as well as battling homophobia in sport and promoting the ideals of inclusiveness and fitness. GLOW originally stood for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and was a hit TV show of female wrestlers in the 80s. It is also now a hit Netflix program, and the Sydney Silverbacks will be borrowing and celebrating the camp ‘80s glamour and fun from these pioneering women with our version of GLOW!
Wett Ones Swimming Team
Wett Ones started 26 years ago as a lesbian and gay masters swimming club and is now an LGBTQI+ club and proud to welcome swimmers of all sexualities and genders. “Our team provides opportunities for competitive swimmers to join us in Masters, and gay and lesbian focused events on the state, national and international stages, and we run regular stroke correction and technique building classes – to help everyone to achieve their swimming goals.”
Bentstix Hockey Club – Pride in Hockey
Bentstix Hockey Club is dedicated to continually building a diverse, competitive and friendly environment which welcomes new members wishing to play hockey, get fit and make new friends. “Our choreography will make use of our papier-mâché hockey sticks.”
Sydney Swans – EVERYONE IS WELCOME AT THE FOOTY
The Swannies strive to be a community leader in celebrating diversity and share the Mardi Gras value of RESPECT. “We are committed through our actions to making everyone feel welcome and safe at the football. With the help of our official LGBTQI supporter group, the Rainbow Swans, we will tell the story of the evolution of the Sydney Swans and the LGBTQI community’s relationship with one another over the past 40 years.”
Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club – Future Fab | 10 Years and Beyond
“We’ve had 10 Fab-tastic Paddling Years as a Club! Different Strokes is a Sydney-based sporting club formed with the aim of providing a social and fitness-focused outlet for the LGBTQI community, as well as their friends, family and supporters.”
Team Sydney – Celebrating Inclusivity in Sport and the 2018 Paris Gay Games
Team Sydney promotes sport, fitness and healthy lifestyles among Sydney’s diverse community sports organisations. “We help connect and promote over thirty-member organisations, representing several thousand individual sportspeople.”
Melbourne Chargers Rugby Union Football Club – Breaking Down Barriers in Sport
“One of the key values which underpins the Melbourne Chargers Rugby Club is inclusion. We are a club that believes in the unique contribution that can be made by all our members; the fabulous and the quiet, the masc and the femme, the big and the small, the non-binary and the fluid, the gay and the straight. We strive to make the Melbourne Chargers a safe space for the authentic expression of all identities. Moreover, we firmly believe that Rugby is for everyone: whether you want to take a hard tackle, tear up the field and score a try, run water, holler and shriek from the sidelines, or dress up in drag and raise some cash, there is a place for you in this amazing sport, and there is a place for you in the Melbourne Chargers.”
Aqualicious Masters Swimming Queensland – Let’s Get Physical, Let’s Get Active, Exercise Your Right to Be Equal
Aqualicious is Queensland’s only GLBTIQ AUSSI Masters Swimming Club and Community Group, promoting a health and active lifestyle for GLBTIQ people in Queensland. They’re inspired by Olivia Newton-John Let’s Get Physical video, expect hot pink and electric blue ‘80s aerobics wear!
Sydney Frontrunners has been a vocal and proud LGBTIQ+ sports club since 1983. Currently there are Frontrunner groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane. “As one of Australia’s oldest LGBTIQ sporting groups, our marchers have the significant honour of carrying the International Rainbow Memorial Run Flag. This flag is passed between each city that has hosted a Gay Games since its inception until it reaches Paris in August 2018 for the beginning of the tenth Gay Games, where our team will compete. Alongside the flag, marchers carry placards bearing the year and host city for each Gay Games held to date, including Sydney.”
National Rugby League – Pride in League
Game on! The NRL is the administrator of Rugby League at all levels across Australia. The National Rugby League made history in 2016 as the first sporting code to include its own float in the Parade.
Brisbane Tritons Water Polo – Creating the Tritons Legacy
The Brisbane Tritons are Queensland’s first and only LGBTIQ-inclusive water polo club. Founded in late 2015 with the assistance of the Brisbane Barracudas, Sydney Stingers, and the Melbourne Surge, the Tritons have grown from 14 members in their first boot camp, to over 80 active members with 4 teams entered the Brisbane Competition in 2016, and 3 teams in 2017.
Sydney Rangers Football Club – Welcome to the Jungle
“We are The Sydney Rangers Football Club, Australia’s first and Sydney’s only gay and inclusive men’s soccer club. Balmain’s Mascot is a tiger and every season we don our Orange and Black and hit the field both as Rangers and as Tigers!”