Our Vision for Reconciliation
At Mardi Gras, our core purpose is to champion our diverse communities’ rights through arts, culture, advocacy and the celebration of LGBTQIA+SB pride.
Our vision for reconciliation is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, particularly those who also identify as part of the LGBTQIA+SB community are represented, respected, celebrated and empowered through the work that we do.
We want our organisation internally, externally and at all levels, to value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as the world’s longest-continuous surviving cultures and we are committed to the actions it will take to achieve this.
Throughout this journey, we keep in mind Reconciliation Australia’s dimensions of reconciliation and our guiding principles for First Nations Engagement.
Our Guiding Principles
- We empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices
- We create safe spaces for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- We consider First Nations voices at the outset, not after
- We are clear about expectations
- We allow for cultural processes to be followed
- We are purposeful in our engagement, ensuring it is meaningful and mutually beneficial
- We are consistent in our approach
- We communicate appropriately, respectfully and regularly
- We take initiative and responsibility to self-educate and do the work
- We acknowledge the diverse realities and intersectionality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- We are committed to developing and maintaining strong, respectful and meaningful relationships with community and working in a way that uplifts all so that through working together, we can create a more inclusive, safe and celebratory society through our work
A Message from the CEO and Board Co-Chairs
The work and ethos of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has always been guided by the spirit of the 78ers – a group of brave activists who participated in the first Mardi Gras in 1978, marching down Oxford St in a peaceful protest chanting two messages: “Out of the bars and onto the streets!” and “Stop police attacks on gays, women and blacks!” The core messages, two commitments for nearby community members and allies — to be seen, and to end discrimination — remain just as significant to Mardi Gras today as they did in 1978,as we promise to be visible and fearless in the fight for equality… not just for our rainbow communities, but also fighting for equality, empowerment and visibility of First Nations peoples.
We’re incredibly proud to be implementing our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), a formalisation of the commitment made 44 years ago, taking the Five Dimensions of Reconciliation and turning them into actionable and impactful steps in Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ journey toward reconciliation. This plan is of paramount importance to us as an organisation, as a Board and our communities at large. The impacts of our RAP deliverables will ensure First Nations people, in particular intersectional LGBTQIA+SB(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Sistergirl, Brotherboy) communities, are better understood, respected, supported and celebrated.
Throughout our history, Mardi Gras has informally engaged in various reconciliation initiatives, and for this reason, our first RAP is starting at the Innovate stage which focuses on implementation, rather than reflection. We always want to do better and be better, and feel that Innovate forces us to challenge ourselves into making meaningful change and build further upon the foundations we have set.
This RAP is a key pillar of our Always On vision; a commitment to developing year-round initiatives for LGBTQIA+SB communities by bringing people together to celebrate, share knowledge and experiences and receive support, no matter where they are.
From education and activism to events and operational processes – reconciliation is everyone’s business. This marks a significant moment in our organisation’s history – and we look forward to it being a part of our legacy.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
MARDI GRAS ARTS
Jesse Matheson and Mel Schwerdt
SYDNEY GAY AND LESBIAN MARDI GRAS
About the Art
This artwork is a throwback to the 1970s and‘80s when Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was born. The message behind this piece is past, present and future. Throughout the piece you’ll find elements from past Mardi Gras themes all while keeping a First Nations flair.
Flowing down from the pink triangle surrounded by time marks the origins and taking back what this symbol once meant. The “Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras” text and the year of“1978” (in the letter “Y”) is an homage to the 78ers. This symbolises our past and the artwork’s shifts into our present as symbols and colours are used to represent diverse parts of our rainbow community. Nods to our journey include the equality symbol as a reference to the fight for marriage equality and the use of the Trans flag is incorporated, as well as the POC colours to show how we have grown in our inclusion of community.
The rainbow serpent is the almighty in this piece, this fabulous creature is many First Nations people’s dreaming. The rainbow serpent spreads lore, love and queerness in this piece.
The final portion is our future. “The future is First Nations” embodies the message that not only were mob there 65,000 years ago, but that mob have always been there and always will be. This section also symbolises the strong First Nations focus Mardi Gras seeks to have moving forward in their Reconciliation journey.
About the Artist
INYADOT ART is an 100% Aboriginal-owned and operated business. Jake Simon is a proud Worimi-Biripi man, born on Worimi country. Jake has lived on the Gadigal lands since 2017.
Inspired by traditional art language, Jake adds colour and vitality to a stark world of black and white. His work fuses traditional form with contemporary methodology to transform cultural storytelling into modern conceptual messaging