Quite simply, it was a night we’ll never forget!
The Y NSW and YWCA Australia came together for their first ever Mardi Gras Parade. A team of 40 dancers represented both organisations – and love in all shapes and sizes – united to shine on the LGBTQIA+ community’s biggest stage of all.
More than 250 years of history combined for the two organisations as they wrote a new chapter with flare on Saturday 5 March 2020, and it was a bright, bold and glittering story they told at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
“Insane, I’m still riding that high,” said Y NSW Brand Manager, Bryan Jader, just minutes after the 44th Mardi Gras parade.
Bryan Jader is the Co-Chair of the Y NSW’s Affinity Network, and he said it was one stunning and emotional bucket list item to tick off.
“It’s one thing to plan it, but when you enter the stadium and you see all the people that feed off that energy, it’s amazing,” he said.
An outpouring of joy and emotion burst from every packed bay at the SCG.
This year’s parade theme United We Shine was on dazzling display and the Ys’ theme was Shaping a More Equal Future.
It was a deeply personal journey to Mardi Gras for everyone who participated.
“I can’t wait to get out there and show not only the nation and possibly the world, that the Y is united,” said Y NSW 2019 Youth Premier Hamani Tanginoa before the parade kicked off.
“I’m so honoured and privileged to have family supporting me and I’m proud that I’m out and open and I’m out here celebrating community, “
The Y’s debut at Mardi Gras marked years of hard work and commitment, through the creation of the Affinity Network four years ago to provide workplace programs fostering inclusion and diversity.
There were countless hours rehearsing a brilliant dance routine and it all came together in spectacular fashion for float 111.
“The atmosphere is amazing and I can’t believe we’re here for the Y,” said Beth McHugh, who works at Camp Yarramundi. “It feels a bit real now, we made it.”
Y Australia National Board member, Leigh Johns, says it’s a remarkable achievement for the organisation.
“It’s such a euphoric moment; to walk around and have everyone accepting you and loving you and clapping, it makes you incredibly proud,” he said.
“It’s an exceptional example of the wonderful journey we’ve been on in terms of diversity, inclusion and pride. It says a lot about our organisation that there’s a heap of queer kids who find a home here at the Y.”
The partnership between the Y NSW and YWCA Australia was a perfect match for two organisations with a shared passion.
“We’ve both got a similar history, similar legacy, we’re all about making a difference for young people, so why not come together and celebrate and show the world that we are committed to diversity and inclusion, together,” said Louisa McKay, Executive Event Sponsor and Y NSW Executive Leader of Youth and Community Services.
For YWCA Australia, the partnership was a powerful way to showcase change and unity.
“It’s really exciting to be here, showing that our movements have moved forward and we really want diversity and inclusion to be part of our future,” said Anastasia Symons, Senior Communications and Marketing Manager for YWCA Australia.
The Ys delivered a powerful statement for the 40,000 fans at the SCG – and the millions watching worldwide.
“This is the Y showing young people that we’re here for them no matter what your sexual orientation or identity and we’ll always be here for you,” said Phil Doorgachurn , Acting CEO of Y Safeguarding.
On exit, the relief and realisation of a dream fulfilled seemed to release itself.
Hugs, kisses and shouts of triumph echoed through the concrete tunnel.
“There’s 160 floats in today’s parade and we’re one of them and that’s historic for us, and it’s the start of bigger and amazing things for diversity and inclusion at the Y,” said Jader.
Bring on Sydney World Pride 2023!