This article was written by our Pro-Bono legal partner MinterEllison.

Melbourne based Evan Kastrinakis is a proud member of MinterEllison’s LGBTQIA+ network, PRIME, and husband to Brent Lacey, a proud 78er with an incredible story.

Evan recently shared what marching in 2023 means to him. Click here to read his story.

Evan can you share with us the incredible story of your husband Brent as a 78er?

Brent shared his story with me 27 years ago when we met, and I didn’t quite believe it. The first “Mardi Gras” (a gay solidarity meeting)) was held in memory of a violent police raid on members of the gay community at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village New York in 1969.

Known as the Stonewall riots, the raid marked the birth of a new radical wave of gay and lesbian liberation worldwide. On the anniversary of Stonewall nine years later, on Saturday 24 June 1978 in Sydney, a group of gay and lesbian activists had a day of meetings and celebrations in Oxford Street Darlinghurst so people could celebrate lesbian and gay freedom without persecution. Late evening in Taylor’s Square a group of activists gathered and marched down Oxford Street yelling ‘out of the bars, onto the street’ which resulted in, an unprovoked violent police attack on the celebrations led to the arrest of many involved. The NSW Police published the names of all arrested and as a result many were outed, lost their jobs, and were completely disenfranchised from family and friends. Brent remembers this night well as he had managed to avoid arrest. The violence that night led to a surge of energy within the gay community. So, what started as a grassroots movement, is now commemorated each year as the incredible Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival. The NSW Police have come such a long way and now support and lead the parade.

We’ve heard also that Brent initiated the Australian Red ribbon Project to build awareness for HIV/AIDS. Can you tell us more?

Brent introduced the concept of wearing a red ribbon to Australia in the  early 90s. That was in the day of the “Grim Reaper” AIDS campaign and lots of misinformation, homophobia and stigma for HIV positive people. Brent introduced the red ribbon as a symbol of awareness and solidarity in memory of many friends fighting the battle with HIV/AIDS. Brent was a flight attendant which allowed him to establish the red ribbons in other States and to distribute amongst big corporates and retailers which led to Brent receiving an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 1995.

That’s incredible. In 2023 the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade will be held for the 45th time. As you will be marching for @MinterEllison and Brent will be marching for the 78ers, can you share with us how that makes you both feel?

I know Brent will be extremely proud to march with the 78ers. For us both however, it’s really about justice and equality for all. That we’re all under the eyes of the law and we’re all considered equal. Mardi Gras doesn’t just change lives; it saves lives! It’s also about celebrating bringing your whole self to work and not having to censor ourselves or adjust to a norm. This accepting culture is the essence of @MinterEllison, and one of the reasons I joined the firm. I was impressed to learn the firm have provided pro bono legal support to Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for many years, and then of course to hear about the wonderful work of the LGBTQIA+ network, PRIME, of which I am now a proud member.

 L to R: Evan Kastrinakis and Brent Lacey at the 20th anniversary of Mardi Gras in 1998

Evan will proudly march alongside 80 colleagues in the 2023 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade as it returns to Oxford Street in February.  The Sydney WorldPride 2023 theme of “Gather Dream Amplify” inspired MinterEllison‘s interpretation “Dream, Strive, Thrive”. Equality, inclusion and respect started with a dream. Let’s strive to make this dream a reality. When the dream is real, we all thrive.