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Getting into the Mardi Gras spirit

The 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival kicked off last weekend and will see the next two weeks jam packed full of events that celebrate Australia’s LGBTIQA+ community.

This year is the 42nd annual festival, and it’s something the industry has gotten behind again, to show their support for the community in a range of ways.

Surry Hills’ Brix Distillers are one example, creating a campaign that extends throughout the whole of February to support Twenty10, an organisation that provides specialised services for young LGBTIQA+ people, including housing, mental health, counselling and social support.

For their campaign, Brix have released a special limited edition bottle of Brix Spiced, hand filled and hand labelled with love. For each of the 469 rainbow adorned bottles sold, $5 will be donated to Twenty10.

With support from Sydney Brewery, Brix is also holding a fundraiser night for Twenty10 on February 27, described as a chance to “raise a glass to allies, activists, friends and family who believe in equality, liberty, justice and glitter.”

Meanwhile, Brooklyn Brewery and Lion launched the Brooklyn Stonewall IPA, created in collaboration with The Stonewall Inn in New York City. The Stonewall Inn has long been a symbol of the pride movement, since the infamous Stonewall Riots in 1969, which is recognised as a significant turning point in the fight for LGBTIQA+ rights.

The special release beer will see proceeds donated to local organisation, the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Australia’s longest running HIV charity.

Speaking before the roll out of the beer, Lion spokesman Dan Holland said: “Australia will celebrate the launch of Brooklyn Brewery’s Stonewall IPA by linking arms with local venues and customers nationally in support of the LGBTIQA+ community in the lead up to Mardi Gras; and following the global tradition of #pouringproudly and giving back to make the world a more loving place, one beer at a time.”

Brooklyn Brewery’s Stonewall IPA

Another international campaign that the local industry is embracing for Mardi Gras is from Absolut, a brand that has been supporting the pride movement for decades. The Absolut Love Letters movement encourages people to spread public messages of positivity and support for the LGBTIQA+ community, intended to drown out the negative voices, reducing hate to make love the loudest message.

Some Australian venues are supporting Love Letters through social media, and also by offering specialty cocktails. The Butler from Applejack Hospitality, for example, has the ‘Love Louder’ cocktail, while a range of Merivale venues have the ‘Absolut Stardust.’

Merivale are also running a competition in line with the love letter campaign, while celebrating eight inspirational personalities from the community in their ‘We Are Stardust’ movement, who will be part of Merivale venues’ Mardi Gras events.

Mardi Gras has a huge event schedule over the next two weeks that will see parties and entertainment take place at most of the iconic venues along the parade route on Oxford Street and it’s surrounds, including the Stonewall Hotel, ARQ and The Oxford Hotel.

Elsewhere in the city, other venues across Sydney are marking the occasion and showing their support for the LGBTIQA+ community. The Kings Cross Hotel has again been made over into the Queens Cross Hotel, while rainbow flags, exclamations of love and celebratory events have also been spotted in bars throughout Newtown and the Inner West.  

But it’s not just colourful clubs after dark that the industry is getting involved in – There’s comedy nights, drag shows, cabaret, bingo, and family friendly events like ‘Picnic Surry Hills’ on February 23, all supported by local venues.

Picnic Surry Hills is the first annual community picnic and will feature an entourage of local characters and personalities, with unicorn rides, live music, and food and drink from venues like Tilly May’s upstairs at the Trinity Hotel, the Shakespeare Hotel, the Dove & Olive and many others.

This is just a small taste of all the incredible ways that our industry is pulling together to support the community. And despite the event being in Sydney, the efforts to celebrate and support the pride movement is a powerful message to the entire Australian community.

It’s sentiments like these that are integral to Mardi Gras, especially considering the theme of this year’s festival, ‘What Matters’.

Mardi Gras Arts Interim CEO Grant Lowe said: “This year we celebrate those at the forefront of the fight for equality. From ground-breaking queer artists to trailblazing thought leaders, Mardi Gras 2020 is an opportunity to visit the next destinations on our journey of diversity, inclusion and social justice.”

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras this year runs from February 14 to March 1.

What to expect from Picnic Surry Hills
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