On Saturday March 5th, the skies cleared and the rain stopped for Mardi Gras 2022 to parade in a spectacular sight.
DEFGLIS proudly supported the Department of Defence and DEFGLIS contingents in MG22. This year’s theme was United we Shine and saw the first time the Department of Defence contingent paraded with the National Flags of Australia. Another first for this year’s Mardi Gras saw our uniformed members parading in ceremonial uniforms whilst wearing their service medals.
In addition, the Department of Defence contingent were joined by proud, supportive non-uniformed personnel displaying the recognisable colours of the Pride Flag in military style camouflage. Notably there were a number of first timers who participated in this year’s event, highlighting a Defence Force that is making changes, evolving and advancing towards being an inclusive employer of choice for all Australians.
The LGBTIQA+ members of the Defence Force can hold their heads high as they proudly step into tomorrow knowing that a more inclusive narrative is being listened to by their Senior Leaders.
The Department of Defence contingent was led by Group Captain Mick Jansen, with Lieutenant Rachael Cosgrove (RAN) and Lieutenant Angus Currie as parade adjuncts. The Flag Bearers were Flight Sergeant Thomas Teo (AAFC), Lucy and Lieutenant Riley Bradford. With volunteers from the Lancer Band Corporal Ben North, Corporal Elizabeth Smith (who’s voice projected with the vocals on the recorded track) and MUSN Jack Rolls that made keeping step and marking time a much easier task then years gone by. This year’s contingent was history making as it displayed that the Australian Defence Force is an employee of choice while visibly showcasing their steadfast support to LGBTIQA+ personnel on the largest scale in a calendar year.
The efforts of the volunteers who provide unwavering support throughout the ADF, greatly enhance Defence’s LGBTIQA+ visibility and presence to participate in such opportunities.
For uniformed members, being able to participate in such a parade gives them an extreme sense of pride and honour, knowing their employer values who they are as individuals and what an inclusive workforce can positively bring out in each of its members. This visibility sends a strong message throughout all of Defence that sex, sexuality and gender diverse people are included, supported and empowered to express their most authentic self, just as they feel comfortable to do.
Every year the Department of Defence contingent is complimented by the DEFGLIS contingent. This year the group paraded in unison following the lead of our primary choreographer Vince Chong supported by Nikki Rossendell. The contingent was a proud display of colour and creative movement, with as much glitter, sparkle and shine as they could muster. With the DEFGLIS contingent echoing the celebration of this year’s theme: United we Shine. This showcased DEFGLIS’s work building and supporting the ADF and its members to rise up to the challenges and obstacles often faced for the LGBTIQA+ community.
The DEFGLIS contingent are a vital part to the celebration as they are made up of supportive and proud family members, peers and other military personnel wanting to stand alongside our members in uniform. DEFGLIS support really amplifies the message that together we can face the prejudice and bias that is still felt amongst the broader LGBTIQA+ community and extended toward those within the ADF.
DEFGLIS continues to be a pillar for the ADF in providing a safe space to all of its members, no matter their orientation, gender or sexuality.
Mardi Gras was born in 1978 as a protest for LGBTIQA+ inclusion and acceptance, however these days it is more of a celebration of that community then the protest it once was. Next year we will see ‘World Pride 23’ being hosted here in Sydney. It should be noted that World Pride is the largest global LGBTIQA+ event and will be in celebrated in hand with the traditional Mardi Gras Festival. It will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Gay Pride Week, the 45th anniversary of the first Mardi Gras Parade and the 5th year anniversary of Australia’s marriage equality. The theme for World Pride 23 is: Gather. Dream. Amplify.
We look forward to seeing DEFGLIS and the ADF being spotlighted as stand out contingents on the world stage next year.
I’d like to take the word “amplify” and challenge how we can use it to once again display that Defence is an organisation that prides itself on being a powerful fighting force built from an inclusive, diverse workforce that I know we are all proud to serve.