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mardi gras.

i went. as part of my work for the phd, i've decided to try and make every major cultural kind of event thing. (so, for anyone who knows of anything that is a big sydney thing, or something i should see, please say.) anyhow. so i went to the parade, because i hadn't been, and because this year, madam g was actually part of a float. and you've got too support your friends, even if you couldn't make them out of the twenty other dancers wearing face paint and top hats.

so there i was. some thoughts on the mardi gras:

--no matter what anyone says, i cannot be convinced that judy garland is a good parade icon. (i say icon merely because she had three or four floats and various red shoes floating around.) in addition to this, you have 'there's no place like home' running in addition to floats that welcome refugees. it's a double message being sent out, or at least i think so.

but on the case of judy garland, wasn't she a drug addict with erratic behaviour, had five husbands, and was the mother of liza minnelli?

(a little bit of web searching for this picked up this quote:

reporter: 'i understand you have a very large gay following miss garland.'
judy: 'i sing to people!')

that's nice of her, yes?

well, either way you interpret this, she is hardly what i would want as a gay icon. how about john cheever?

--the commercialisation of the parade seems, still, a bit off to me. but maybe i'm just tired of everything trying to sell something. frogger, the light bulbs.

--angels on stilts are a fantastic idea.

--the spice girls are dated. really.

--i heard someone explaining the metaphor of harry potter and the gay lifestyle on tv. i don't care. stop it. it's a kids book. if adults enjoy it, fine, but adults can also read other books and thus promote them. need i bring john cheever back up?

--the water at the back of trucks was a brilliant idea. very nice to see people getting water as they danced across the streets.

--actually, it may, or may not, be fair to say that there is a lot of... infantilism in the parade, if you follow my meaning? lots of simple, no threatening, non confronting things. the wizard of oz. harry potter. bob the builder. just off the top of my head. (not to mention that you could argue that here, in thus one night, the homosexual community is encouraged out, but so long as they are entertaining and non threatening.) but perhaps this is a calculated thing: to appeal to youth, as the future lies with them, and change should be brought through them. but i'm not really in a position to say. i guess i was just wanting a powerful, big, fuck you statement. i'm a bit like that.

(of course, it could also be said that i thought they were only entertaining and non threatening, because i'm not a bigot or an idiot. well, at least a bigot. who can say about the second?)

--the democrats. natasha. hmm. well, this is petty, i know, but as she came past, waving a soaking up cheers, i couldn't help but yell out, 'why aren't you making a difference!' though i was drowned out by noise. she did wave at me, and i don't think the people around me appreciated my call, highly unoriginal as it was.

--there is something to be said about drag queens. i think there should be more: they're a colourful explosion that light the room up.

--i'm always surprised by homosexuals who want church acceptance. the parade began with a religious float, and i find it hard to support this. i don't want the church to have any power. if they had set that float on fire, and done all sorts of nasty things to the human created messenger of god, i would have been pleased. but alas. the cynical part of me wonders, if the church accepted gays and lesbians, what those same people would say about pro choice, assisted suicide, and the missionaries who go overseas and fed the poor for god. (while teaching them to read the bible, and not, i might add, john cheever.)

--i was a bit surprised (and disappointed) to see that AIDS was, to the best of my knowledge, the only disease listed in the parade. not that i don't think it shouldn't be there, but i am sure that cancer and other incurable diseases also affected many too. it's a big parade. bring out the causes.

--the other thing that disappointed me, was the float that wanted old age care for gay people. what about just, old age care? what does it matter if you are gay or not? i felt, for that one instance, that this was rather like affirmative action, which, to employ an aboriginal just because they are an aboriginal is just as racist as if you didn't employ them for the same reason. i understand that it is for the best intentions, but this kind of thinking only helps to strengthen the divides between people, and make those bigotry's harder to overcome.

this, i should note, is an optimistic, naive point of view. i am well aware that it is a necessary evil. i just would have liked to see 'old age care' to show that all people deserve care.

--the crowd really gets into it. cheering, waving, bubbles through the air. fireworks are let off, alcohol is drunk, drugs are taken, and sometimes neither is done, but there is just a good, friendly atmosphere that sends a buzz through the air. even the bats get it.

--it's all colour, like a good parade should be.

--there were far to many good looking people. it reflected badly upon me ;)

--if i were to describe it, it think i'd call it a long, snaking chinese dragon of colour and pride. and bubbles.

mardi gras, mardi gras. it's a positive experience, all the energy and pleasure in the air. which is what most people go for, and i rather doubt that there are people standing and wondering if there is going to be a john cheever float.

does it surprise you that i think there should be, though?

Comments

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(Anonymous)
Mar. 5th, 2002 04:40 pm (UTC)
Taking a walk on the wild side
Why thankyou for your support darling. I was at the back of the marching boys (need I insert a witty, smutty comment here? Probably not) Twas hard to keep one's place in all that revelry. Hell, after dancing & marching like a lunatic all the way up Oxford St it was hard to keep one's breath! But it's the crowd that keeps one going. I can not describe to you the buzz one gets turning from the marshalling position into the parade route & having thousands of people screaming their support. It's like nothing else I've ever experienced. Being in the parade is just one massive blur of lights & music & screaming & physical exertion & pride. My entire life will be an anti climax after that moment. Hell, shortly after I turned 25 so I KNOW it's all down hill from here!

Which brings me to your comment regarding the old gay ppl. They are definitely marginalised in the gay community, tho I don't know what particular health issues they may have been talking about. A good example comes from a 21yr old I was speaking to at the Arq recovery. In discussing self respect & his own lack of it he mentioned that he & most of his friends didn't worry about the effects of their drug abuse because they didn't want to get old & be like that.

As for Judy. WELL. She explodes onto the scene in a fabulously camp movie. She's wearing SPARKLING RUBY HEELS!!!! She is transported by a violent maelstrom from B&W Kansas to a colourful land at the centre of which is an EMERALD CITY, the capital of OZ! She's fabulous, famous, rich, has multiple overdoses, and husbands, gives Peter Allan his career start, sires Liza Minelli! Judy stands for every indulgence that gay men aspire to!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 5th, 2002 05:00 pm (UTC)
Still walking on the wild side
Your comments on the church & political floats touch on what seems to be becoming a growing debate in the community. I mean stuff Natasha, there was even a gay liberals float for chrissakes! The debate is concerned with the way the community is choosing to interact with the rest of society with regards to equal rights. Current battles involve transgender discrimination, religious issues & marriage, superannuation(do you know that my decision to name my same sex partner as the beneficiary of my super isn't legally binding!!!)& childrearing.The focus on EQUAL rights has been criticised as selling the community short because it focuses on the social norms of heterosexual society and tries to bring those norms and legal rights to the non-hetero community.

Some people reject this approach seeing it as the co-opting of the non-hetero community into the value systems of the hetero community with the carrot being merely basic law reforms & economic well being. It is a move that rewards non-heteros who choose to mimic the hetero lifestyle & further marginalises those who do not.

I agree with the idealism. But I aspire to the vogue gay lifestyle too. The gay community is no more immune to the temptation to sacrifce real identity freedom for that which is marketed to us than anyone else I'm afraid. Less immune perhaps.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 5th, 2002 05:26 pm (UTC)
Waffling on & on & on
Infantilism. Hmmmm. Yes. There is a prodigious focus on childrens icons. I'm not sure why either. On the surface they are always bright, colourful, simple representations of adult concepts. As such they lend themselves to the creation of fabulous floats & costumes. And the gay community is terminally focused on youth, obsessed with it really. I think we get a certain joy out of subverting these things. Frankly I'm surprised that it was as political as it was. Activism has been dealt a blow with successive liberal governments & a less than approachable opposition.

As for the AIDS float. I think AIDS really stands as a symbol for all STDs for the gay community. There are no other diseases as initmately linked to the scene lifestyle, & there alot more besides that one, many of them on the rise at the moment. AIDS was also a huge element in bringing the community together in ways it had never done so before. So it's a bit of a banner that the community uses still to rally around even tho safe sex is on the decrease & STDs on the rise. There was so much education & activism 10-15 years ago, the epidemic subsided a little, the educated people grew up & the education petered out. When the new generation appeared the disease & it's prevention were less of an issue. I didn't even see anyone handing out condoms at the party. Haven't for the last few actually.

And yes I agree that there should be more drag queens.
benpeek
Mar. 5th, 2002 05:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Waffling on & on & on
ah, it's always good to see you around here my dear.

anyhow, i really do think that the focus on childrens icons is two fold: one, because it is non threatening. it takes things down to a level that the mainstream adult community can appreciate without feeling threatened, and something that children can identify with. if i could be sure about it, i might even say that it is done on purpose by the gay community so that it makes a less challenging teaching tool for parents to educate their children with. but i dunno about that one.

secondly, however, maybe it is part of the fact that there are no real *adult* icons in the gay community. the adult community at large is dominated by heterosexuality in its images, so perhaps it is simple the gay community looking for ways to express themselves that haven't been linked to a sexuality already.

who knows?
(Anonymous)
Mar. 6th, 2002 07:20 pm (UTC)
Speaking of gay icons...
Speaking of gay icons, I was reminded of a really funny article in The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/onion3808/denver_optometrist.html
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