Allsorts proud to take part in Mardi Gras

Members of the University of Wollongong's Queer Collective, Allsorts, are busy sprucing up their costumes and painting banners for this Saturday's Mardi Gras.

It will be the third year the group has been part of the Sydney gay pride parade and more than 30 students will be joining the march down Oxford Street.

This year will be the 35th anniversary year of the Mardi Gras, and it is being celebrated under the banner Generations of Love.

Allsorts spokesman Ben Stylo said it was not just a stroll down the street for the regional students, who did not have the same support networks as their colleagues in big cities.

"The queer community in the Illawarra is nowhere near as large as the queer community in Sydney and so this march gives us a sense of solidarity with the wider queer community," he said.

"We can go up there and meet some amazing people and it's just a really invigorating experience."

Mr Stylo, a graphic design student, said the collective's theme this year was Not Just Queer.

"We want to get the message out that there's more to us than just our sexuality; we have many qualities that better represent us.

"And so we haven't chosen just one costume - we've each come up with costumes that best represent us."

Some will be dressed to suit their chosen career - for instance, two will be dressed as a doctor and a lawyer.

Other costumes will reflect participants' hobbies or interests, such as Harry Potter and Pokemon.

There will be no "float" as such, but the collective is hoping to get some funds from UOW for next year's parade.

"We've raised money for this year's costumes and banners, mostly through student fund-raising and with a bit of help from WUSA [UOW's student association]," he said.

"But we'd really like to do it bigger and better next year and have an actual physical float with music and lights, so we are seeking some funding."

Meanwhile, even if it rains on their parade this weekend, the students will keep smiling.

"It's rained for the past two years and the forecast for Saturday is for rain.

But we'll be marching rain, hail or shine," Mr Stylo said.

"Everyone's really excited."

Jared Geck and Ben Stylo will be among those taking part in Mardi Gras. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Jared Geck and Ben Stylo will be among those taking part in Mardi Gras. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO


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