Is Sydney Mardi Gras Going Through Ex-Gay Therapy?

Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney—perhaps the largest and most infamous celebration in the world—has renamed itself “Sydney Mardi Gras,” as part of an effort to appeal to a larger, non-queer audience.

”We fought for this day, the day we could embrace the wider community and be inclusive,” Mardi Gras chairman Peter Urmson told the Sydney Morning Herald at a launch event Thursday. ”I think that whilst we are first and foremost a GLBTQI community organisation, we also are very open to all of our friends that do not necessarily identify within that alphabet soup.”

In addition to the name change, Sydney Mardi Gras producers introduced a sleek (and sexless) new logo and announced the talent for Mardi Gras 2012 on March 3—RuPaul, the Dame Edna Experience and dance duo Sneaky Sound System.

The parade, which began in 1978 as a gay-rights march where dozens were arrested, has transformed over the years into an internationally famous party that pumps $30 million into the New South Wales economy and draws more than 70,000 participants and spectators of all persuasions.

But Greg Logan, the head the advertising agency that created the event’s new ”infinite love” logo, says a gay-specific event doesn’t hold any appeal for younger LGBTs. ”The new generation of kids don’t have the same prejudices previous generations do. If you’re gay or lesbian at school, you’re out, your straight friends don’t care, and you go out together.”

Gee, someone oughta tell biblical-marriage proponent Prime Minister Julia Gillard how chill Aussies are about gays.

Not all Aussies are happy about the rebranding, including former Mardi Gras president Richard Cobden, who says  the group didn’t have the authority to make such a change: “Peter Urmson says ‘this is our gift to the city’. It was not his to give… For 20-plus years we have been able to force the mainstream media to call it the ‘Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.’ They had to say the words. For a long time they did not want to but we made them. That has been thrown away.”

A promotional video has been created to get people on board with Mardi Gras’ new identity. Notice that, despite recounting the parade’s history and future, the narrator doesn’t say the words “gay” or “lesbian” once. Funny that, eh?


Images via Christianocious , Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras