• This year's Heaps Gay float is going 'full bush' (Heaps Gay)Source: Heaps Gay
This year's Heaps Gay float is flying in parade marchers who have never attended the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Samuel Leighton-Dore

21 Feb 2019 - 3:26 PM  UPDATED 13 Mar 2019 - 9:06 AM

For this year's Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, queer party-throwers Heaps Gay wanted to try something new - so they went "full bush" and reached out to members of the LGBTIQ+ community living in regional parts of Australia.

According to Heaps Gay's Kat Dopper, who also sits on the Sydney Mardi Gras board, the move was an attempt to "celebrate diversity and queerness in regional areas", aiming to bring in parade marchers who had never before participated in the long-running celebration.

"We were blessed to bring together an amazing group of people who are all keen to jump up on our float, have a boogie, and share their stories," Dopper told SBS Sexuality.

Included in those flying into Sydney next week is 19 year-old Rebecca Imlach from Launceston, Tasmania, who is looking forward to immersing herself in a sense of community.

"When you see or meet other queer people it gives you a buzz of excitement and a flicker of recognition in having your experience mirrored in another person," she told Heaps Gay ahead of the event.

"That’s how I imagine Mardi Gras, that experience multiplied by thousands. A buzz that becomes a song, a flicker that becomes a glow. A night when we march in celebration, in protest, and in love."

Also marching in the group's regional float is 28 year-old Hannah Maher from Trundle, NSW, who expects the parade to be "a day of jubilation".

However, it will also be an opportunity for Maher to dispel some common misconceptions about life in regional Australia.

"I came out as transgender last year to a town of just under 400 people," Maher revealed in the lead up to the parade.

"As scary as that might sound, the process was incredibly positive. Not everyone understands what it means to be trans, but most of the people here are accepting and supportive nonetheless."

She added: "The country really isn’t the scary, backwards, ultra-conservative place that people make it out to be, and I can’t wait to go 'full bush' at Mardi Gras and show everybody that!"

Other regional towns represented by Heaps Gay marchers this year include Uralla and Armidale.

You can watch OnDemand's Thinking Queer collection here, a collection of programs that explore all manner of social, political and cultural issues facing the LGBTIQ+ community.

A live stream of the parade will be available on SBS On Demand and the SBS Twitter account and Facebook page on Saturday 2 MarchSBS Arabic 24 will report live from the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade to Arabic-speaking audiences around Australia.

You can watch the SBS parade coverage on Sunday March 3rd at 8.30pm.


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