Watch our video highlights from those that participated in the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade in-person and remotely.
Sydney Mardi Gras Parade: 2021
The Neurodiversity Rainbow (Au), which represents the Autistic LGBTQIA+ community, was proud to participate in the annual Mardi Gras Parade yet again! Building on from the Neurodiversity Rainbow from previous years, we added Autistic gold to this year’s theme. This is because many Autistic people use 'Au' to identify who we are, and 'Au' is the symbol for gold on the periodic table of elements. Like Autistic people, gold is rare, valuable, useful and special, and a way that we can embrace our identity in a positive way.
2021 looked different with a parade being held in a stadium for the first time ever, but the changes allowed for more neurodiverse people to get involved, feel safe and march at Mardi Gras. This is both because of the reduction in sensory stimulus, and the COVID safe measures that are in place that helps to create more structure and predictability for people on the autism spectrum.
In February, we were coming out the other side of COVID-19 and celebrated our intersectionality, whether that be multiple disabilities, LGBTQIA+, First Nations and multicultural, and RISE above the challenges of inequality with our existence every day.
Sydney Mardi Gras Parade: 2020
In 2020, the theme of ‘What Matters’ brought the Neurodiversity Rainbow entry together again, almost doubling our numbers to over 60 marchers including Autistic LGBTQIA+ people, supporters and allies, and our CEO Jacqui Borland.
In line with this theme, our working group custom-designed t-shirts bearing the disability rights slogan "Nothing about us, without us", while carrying eye-catching signs showing visual symbols of a collection of 12 topics that matter most to the Autistic LGBTQIA+ community. We built upon our infinity message by designing a large-scale rainbow infinity tunnel held proudly as part of our march.
Feedback from participants that it was fantastic to share the experience with the other people and it was a strong sense of community, meeting new people with similar life experiences and being part of something special. One participant said 'It was a life and identity-affirming experience for me. I am Autistic, I love being Autistic and I love that there were others like me (as well as allies) that are the same in that regard and thought it worthy to advertise that fact to millions in the form of a parade'
Sydney Mardi Gras Parade: 2019
Aspect participated in the 2019 Sydney Mardi Gras Parade as the Neurodiversity Rainbow. With the support from the Aspect LGBTQIA+ Advisory Committee, this initiative provided enormously positive benefits and a sense of belonging and pride for those participating.
The Mardi Gras working group, consisting of LGBTQIA+ Autistic people and Aspect employees, designed the creative concepts for the Neurodiversity Rainbow entry using the infinity symbol, now recognised as a symbol for neurodiversity.
A longtime friend of Aspect, Yenn Purkis, joined us on the day and shared their feelings on the experience in their blog