UNSW Mardi Gras celebration gets colourful

An explosion of colour adorned the Main Walkway on Wednesday, courtesy of over 1000 UNSW staff and students dressed in their best and brightest rainbow attire.

The Human Rainbow was designed as a symbol of UNSW’s solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ community on campus and across the world.

From the bright red of the Engineering faculty at the top of the rainbow, through to the purple of Law at the bottom, it was a dynamic and inspiring activation that demonstrated the empathy and compassion of the UNSW community.

Following the Human Rainbow, the colours dispersed and came back together in a multi-coloured blur to apply rainbow temporary tattoos, share fairy floss and have discussions about inclusion and belonging as iconic Britney Spears tunes formed a backdrop to the celebratory atmosphere.

The event marked the beginning of a series of activities being held across the UNSW campus to celebrate Mardi Gras.

UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor Division Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Eileen Baldry emphasised that collaboration with students is vital in delivering these kinds of events.

“These things that we do here are always in partnership with students – they are at the heart of the University,” she said.

The Human Rainbow and UNSW’s Mardi Gras event program have been created in line with the 2020 theme #WhatMatters – an opportunity to focus on what matters right now for LGBTIQ+ people.

A student-built interactive installation has drawn on these themes, which UNSW Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Event Coordinator Fergus Grealy believes will provide an important context for discussions.

“We were disappointed that we weren’t able to enter a float in this year’s Mardi Gras parade, but our amazing student project team persevered to produce an installation on Kensington campus,” he said.

“It’s a lovely space to sit, chat and ponder on ‘What Matters’.”

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The installation, created by the UNSW Queer Collective, has been designed as a space for the UNSW community to come together

While Mardi Gras is known for its colourful celebrations, the theme serves as a reminder of the history of the event as a protest march – asking the community to reflect on how far things have come since the event began and the work that still lies ahead.

The LGBTIQ+ community continues to experience high rates of discrimination and UNSW has recognised Mardi Gras as an important time to empower and celebrate this community.

While Australia said yes to marriage equality, there is still a long way to go to ensure equality across all communities.

With the Government’s impending Religious Freedom Act, the Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion believes now is the time to step beyond diversity and create an inclusive community.

Professor Baldry is delighted with the way the UNSW community has approached the entire event program.

“Mardi Gras is a wonderful time to celebrate our LGBTIQ+ community at UNSW,” she said.

“Creating a Human Rainbow is an exciting way to value the diversity in our community and show support for our LGBTIQ+ students and staff.”

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