The central theme of this years Sydney LGBTQI Mardi Gras was “Fearless.” What a great theme. The Australian LGBQTI community’s night of nights conjures a huge range of intense emotions from participants, supporters and observers alike… and the joy that flows from the demonstrated fearlessness of the community is the emotion that seems the most palpable to me! No sub-division within the community demonstrates more “fearlessness” than its athletes do. Queer athletes not only experience homophobic taunts while participating in the sports that they love but they are sometimes not even taken terribly seriously by individuals and groups one would normally consider supporters of those who identify as queer. There are plenty who roll their eyes when a young gay athlete confesses to be a passionate rugby player, hockey player or water polo player.
Being an LGBTQI athlete is fun but not funny
One popular Radio National broadcaster recently interviewed a group of Argentinian dancers as part of his program. When one of the dancers (an openly gay young guy) explained that his background, before dance, was in playing rugby, the broadcaster laughed. I suppose he thought that rugby and being gay don’t mix. He should explain that to the Melbourne Chargers or Sydney Convicts rugby players. Even one of the SBS hosts of the Mardi Gras parade seemed a little less than impressed when floats of LGBTI sporting organisations went by the SBS commentary point.
No less than twenty-one sporting clubs and groups took part in this years Mardi Gras Parade. Queer athletes stood up by the hundreds to demonstrate pride in their community and to represent their clubs and sports on the big night. Rugby, AFL, netball, general fitness, rowing, wrestling, roller-derby, skating, NRL, water polo, swimming, surf lifesaving and other sports participants marched to show that gay athletes are an important part of the sporting and LGBTQI communities. In a world where people who identify as queer have been, historically, excluded from the things that “normal” folk do (marriage for example) or discriminated against when they try, it is great to see sports lovers and their clubs proudly proclaiming that they are gay and that they are athletes! It was great to see so many queer athletes celebrating their love of sport and the inclusiveness of their sporting communities!
Check out some of Australia’s LGBTI athletes marching on Mardi Gras night. Thanks to the Mardi Gras organizers for granting permission to show these images and congratulations to Jeffrey Feng for his outstanding camera work. A list of the twenty-one clubs that proudly marched is provided at the end.
Many thanks to Mardi Gras for allowing us to reproduce these images… and special thanks and congratulations to Jeffrey Feng (of Jeffrey Feng Photography) for his magnificent camera work!
Sporting clubs and associations that marched in this years Mardi Gras Parade were…
Women in AFL – AFL without agenda!
Lifesavers with Pride – Creating proud beaches across the country.
Bentstix Hockey Club – Fearless hockey champions.
Different Strokes Dragonboat Club – Fearless freakshow.
Sydney Frontrunners – Fit, fabulous and fearless since the 80’s.
Team Sydney Sports – Making a splash.
National Rugby League – NRL Pride in League.
WOD OUT Proud – Empowering our community through fitness. Let’s get physical!
Sydney Stingers Waterpolo Club – Sydney Stingers.
Melbourne Surge Waterpolo.
Brisbane Tritons – Make a splash.
Street Roller Hockey Chicks Club – We’ve bin chicken you out.
Queer Derby – Flight of the skater.
Sydney Swans – Everyone is welcome at the footy.
Sydney Convicts Rugby Union Club – Game changers!
Surry Hills Netball Club
Wett Ones Sydney LGBT + Swimming Club – Swim like a girl.
Rainbow Crows Supporters Group.
Sydney Silverbacks (Harbour City wrestling Club) – The wrestlers of Oz.
The Fitness Fairies – Fearless fairies.
Tennis Sydney – Celebrating 30 years of Australian Gay and Lesbian Open.
Melbourne Chargers RUFC – Celebrating 10 years of gay rugby.
Perth Rams Rugby Union Football Club