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The rising corporatisation of queer identity

  • 05 March 2020
Each year Mardi Gras shimmies onto the Sydney circuit. Aside from a mild shuffle in its entertainment schedule and a growing awareness of its environmental impacts, the formula remains relatively stable. A parade, an always surprising number of floats, awful EDM remixes of pop songs, a week’s rent in ticketed parties and angry online queers looking to mobilise around their own idea of proud authenticity.

Each year we debate all the same things. The history of Mardi Gras and the broader value of Pride. Should police get to march, and is it a march or a parade? Who invited the bankers and why does L'oreal have a float?

And each year I wonder why we keep having the same conversations. Perhaps it’s pointing to a loss of history in our community’s consciousness. Maybe the legislative gains and a creeping societal tolerance are creating an environment of political complacency. Do people just not care enough?

In her debut book, Queer Intentions, writer Amelia Abraham notes that these discussions reverberate into the global queer politic. London’s Pride sees several alternatives with UK Black Pride, Peckham Pride, Queer Picnic and the newly minted Trans Pride March, promising a more diverse, less sanitised day of resistance. New York City, the home place of Pride marches, saw a fierce competitor in 2019 with Reclaim Pride: ‘the annual Pride parade has become a bloated, over-policed circuit party, stuffed with 150 corporate floats. This does not represent the "spirit of Stonewall" on this 50th anniversary year,’ wrote the organisers. Even Berlin, a city sweaty with kinks and politics, has the Dyke March, Radical Queer March and (the late) Kreuzberg Pride as distinct surrogates to the more commercial CSD Berlin. 

Pride is politically messy. When you stir together an alphabet soup of people, all of which have other intersecting identities (race, class, religion, political allegiance), you will invariably plate up a political mess. 

And the 2020 Sydney Mardi Gras dished quite the menu. 


'While I can certainly empathise with the desire to feel proud in one’s identity against all odds, that inclusion shouldn’t come at the expense of the exclusion of the most marginalised. Pride shouldn’t come at the expense of another’s fear.'  

The NSW Police Force arrested three members of the ‘Department of Homo Affairs’ after protesting against the Liberal Party Float. They tweeted that they were ‘disappointed with their actions, which did not comply with the conditions of the event or the