Despite a change of venue, this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was a complete success.
Like no other before it, this year’s parade was held at the Sydney Cricket Ground instead of Oxford Street, with Disruptive Pattern Navy Uniform instead of S7, walking and waving instead of marching and the APS mingled with the uniform members.
Sub Lieutenant Graeme Billett said the atmosphere was one of celebration.
“I found myself out the front of the march, as the senior Navy member, standing next to an Air Force Group Captain,” Sub Lieutenant Billett said.
“We had junior sailors and officers in uniform with seniors as part of the white or purple T-shirt contingent.
“Walking out onto that ground, in uniform, leading my fellow LGBTIQA-plus Defence members and friends was something else.
“I knew we’d get huge cheers as we walked by, we always do, but this was the SCG.”
He said spectators went wild as participants passed by. This year, though, participants could hear and see friends and strangers yelling out in support.
“It was a show of solidarity with the community that we come from, that we support and who support us,” Sub Lieutenant Billett said.
Defence values were on display, literally, being presented to the crowd on flags, before a final reveal of a rainbow flag in a camouflage print.
“Australia, and the world, got to see our pride in Defence, our service, our values, our future and our past, all in the space of two minutes,” Sub Lieutenant Billett said.
“It was seamless, thanks to the leadership and creative design of the DEFGLIS President Squadron Leader Nathan White.
“The hours of practice we all put in showed, with unbelievable coordination in presenting symbolic rainbow wreaths in a really small performance space.”
Sub Lieutenant Billet paid tribute to those who had paved the way.
“Personally, I am proud to be a member of the LGBTIQA-plus community and the Royal Australian Navy and thank those who served before us,” Sub Lieutenant Billett said.
“We would not be able to do what we do without standing on the shoulders of those giants who came before, all those who have served, but especially those that served in silence.”