The Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020 is almost upon us, with thousands of marchers busily rehearsing their routines, finishing off their costumes, and putting the final touches on their floats.
One such float belongs to People with Disability Australia (PWDA), which is returning for its tenth year with more marchers and participants than ever, eager to represent an often forgotten faction of Australia's LGBTIQ+ community.
"LGBTIQA+ people with disability face a range of issues that are often overlooked, such as acknowledging that people with disability have a sexuality, and a right to sexual expression, as well as wanting to get together with our peers to celebrate who we are," said PWDA President David Abello, who marched in the original Sydney Mardi Gras on 24 June 1978.
"LGBTIQA+ people with disability can face discrimination from service providers, and a general erasure of our experiences from both disability and queer communities."
Abello added: "We are so proud to be part of Mardi Gras, and for our float to be growing each year! People with disability, just like everyone else, have a wide range of identities, and a right to be included in community events."
The group's float for 2020 is themed 'Illuminating Connections', consisting of six mannequins representing the different colours of the rainbow.
"Each mannequin will light up individually and display a message around our rights such as a right to be free from violence and abuse, a right to learn about sex etc," Abello explained.
"They symbolise connection and inclusion while displaying the fact that we are we’re all different, yet we are part of the LGBTIQA+ community.
"It’s so important that LGBTIQA+ people with disability are included in the wider queer community. Often events aren’t accessible, and people with disability find they haven’t been welcomed. Come and say hello to us at the parade!"
"It’s so important that LGBTIQA+ people with disability are included in the wider queer community."
Reflecting on the progress he's witnessed for the community since 1978, Abello said there was still a lot of work to do.
"I’ve been pushing for the inclusion of people with disability in the queer community for a long time, but also for the disability community to be more accepting of diversity," he told SBS Pride.
"In 2020, it is certainly better for LGBTIQA+ people with disability than it was, but we still have a way to go.”
The Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020: Live Stream will be available to watch here from Saturday, 29th February 2020 at 07:30 PM.