Mmmm alphabet soup…tastes like rainbows

So last week I was asked to give a speech at my university’s local Mardi Gras celebration. Here it is:

“So what can I say about today’s Mardi Gras event? Well, I spend a lot of my days thinking about questions of gender, sex and sexuality, and the way in which we take up those specific identifiers that say, “Yes! This is who I am in the world”. I think that Mardi Gras is both about the personal and the political- celebrating who you are out loud, and demanding to be seen and heard. Mardi Gras is about opening up a space to talk about identity and belonging, and to have a discussion about things that might otherwise go unsaid and unheard.

As some of you may know, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras changed its name to just “Mardi Gras” for this year’s festival. The organisers of the event said that they wished to promote greater inclusivity by dropping the “gay and lesbian”. And, as we celebrate our university Mardi Gras event today, we stand under a similar banner, designed to promote respect and equality for all people, no matter their sexual orientation.

While a central aspect of Mardi Gras might be inclusion, how do we make sure we don’t lose the alphabet soup along the way? I’m talking here about the ever growing acronym- LGBTIQAP, Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, Pansexual… I could add more. How do we maintain our pride for who we are, without getting lost in the milieu of inclusion? While I agree that we are all equal despite questions of gender or sexuality, issues of visibility are ever-present. Being recognised, acknowledged, and respected for the person that you are, is a big deal.

Well, my thoughts on this are: say it out loud. For example, I am proud to say that I am a bisexual, queer, femme.

But this isn’t about labelling or having to “fit” into specific categories- it’s about naming our diversity and opening up new areas of discussion about identity. 

So let’s take this opportunity today to remember the alphabet soup, and in doing so, welcome everyone and anyone, under the ever expanding rainbow.

Happy Mardi Gras!”

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DIY paper your nails with a “Mardi Gras” opinion piece

Take one great story and memorialise it on your fingertips

I recently discovered a great new twist on manicuring – newspaper nails. No doubt this has been around for centuries and I am only just getting on the bandwagon. I decided that if I was going to put print on my nails I might as well make it a little bit political, even if no one else would notice. So here’s how you too can have crazy and mildly subversive nails too:

1. Find a great story or opinion piece in a newspaper that you have lying around and would probably chuck out otherwise. I chose this one.

You could theoretically use any colour of the rainbow for this trick

2. Paint your nails some kind of base colour. I chose white but you could really use any kind of base colour if black ink will be visible on it. Wait till a few coats of the base colour are dry.

3. Dip your first finger in a little bit of alcohol. Apparently people use rubbing alcohol for this, but I found that if you have spare gin lying around, that also works completely well.

I used Tanqueray, but any high proof alcohol will do. I guess.

4. While your finger is still wet with the alcohol, take a small section of your chosen op-ed, etc and place it on top of your nail, rub it down smoothly and hold it in place. The alcohol should bring the ink off the page onto your finger. Oh the miracle of chemistry!

5. Remove the paper after about thirty seconds and the ink should be left on there (albeit backwards). Let this dry and then paint with some clear lacquer.

The finished product. Perfect protest material.

6. And with that you should have the amazing science of fingernail newspaper art complete. While people may or may not be politically moved by the backwards small print newspaper article on your fingertips, at least you’ll know that you have captured something important.

Here’s some nails I prepared earlier —>

I like that my middle finger says “queer mardi gras” backwards. And that’s really all it’s about in the end.

Sydney [née Gay and Lesbian] Mardi Gras: Really?


The new "Mardi Gras" logo: I smell a heteronorm

There is some disenchantment within GLBTQIQ communities over the 2012 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ attempt to be “inclusive”. There has been some media coverage of the issue and  you can join the Occupy Mardi Gras Facebook group here. Some are questioning the step toward heterosexual assimilation inclusion that the organisers have now cemented through the re-naming (read their justification here). The Mardi Gras has a history of discrimination within GLBTQIQ ranks. The name “Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras” never really captured the alphabet soup (and admittedly, neither does the acronym that I am using here), and it wasn’t long ago that the likes of trans, bisexual and intersex people had to pass a “gay threshold” just to come to the after party. However, the new name change does nothing to embrace plurality as such- as some commentators have pointed out, why not put “Pride” at the front of the Mardi Gras title?

What I find most off-putting about the current re-branding shenanigan is the new symbol that has been chosen (to replace sit alongside the iconic opera-house-esque logo before it), which to me, REEKS of something like this —>

The new "Eternity" vision for Sydney: let's all move to the 'burbs shall we?

Don’t get me wrong- I’m all for “Gay” Marriage, but I’m also for embracing polyamory and other pursuits – which warrant inclusivity in the Mardi Gras celebration – that are not at all captured by the new sterile and clean cut graphic. Polyamorous people might even agree that their widely used symbol has been parodied and given a whole new meaning.The new “infinity hearts” reminds us of tiered cakes, string quartets and the bridal march- where are the whips, orgies and all manner of queer fantasy machines in that?