Special events and social reform: the case of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade and the Australian Marriage Equality movement
Ford, A & Markwell, K 2017, 'Special events and social reform: the case of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade and the Australian Marriage Equality movement', Event Management, vol. 21, pp. 683-695.
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This article reports on a study undertaken to critically consider the intersections between special events and social reform through the empirical lens of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and its presentation of same sex marriage (marriage equality), which has become a significant contemporary political and social issue in Australia. The Parade is the public highlight of a festival that celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex identities and which has become an internationally significant tourism event, attracting large numbers of both domestic and international tourists. Yet, the holding of such an important event, now in its 39th year, which publicly acknowledges and celebrates alternative sexualities, is contrasted with the systemic discrimination and prejudice based on sexual and gender identity that continues to persist in contemporary Australian society. The absence of marriage equality is one such form of discrimination. Participant observation of the 2014 parade together with interviews with a number of prominent members of the gay and lesbian community enabled the extent to which the Parade is able to facilitate a broader understanding of the marriage equality issue to be critically understood.