Mardi Gras 2019: All aboard the Fearless Express!

By Emily Newton, 26 February 2019 , Comments

Disabled social activist, poet and artist Georgia Cranko will lead the ‘Fearless Express’ on Saturday 2 March, stopping all stations to inclusion at the 2019 Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade!

LGBTQIA+ people with disability are embracing this year’s theme, raising awareness of public transport accessibility issues and expressing themselves and their sexuality fearlessly.

With her unique voice, quirky body and an equally quirky mind, former Northcott customer Georgia shares her lived experiences to positively change the world. She is an innate social agitator with a sharp wit and passion for challenging the normative social consciousness.

“People with disability are as valid as anyone else and other people need to recognise it, because we are absolutely entitled to the same societal opportunities as the rest of the population,” she said.

“People speak about disability as something that we have to overcome to demonstrate our humanness, and to substantiate our rights as citizens.  However, there is no single expression of humanity, nor a type of existence that is more valuable than others.

“By freely expressing ourselves amidst everyone else, it goes some way to not just show others who we are, but also make us feel like our identities matter and are something to celebrate.”

When asked to describe her sexuality and identity, Georgia laughed and answered, “I don’t know… I guess you could say I’m queer, for lack of a better word.” She sees Mardi Gras as a fitting backdrop to challenge people’s definitions of what it means to be a functional human while expressing a real need for social change.

“Mardi Gras began as a protest in which the LGBTIQA+ community transformed social marginalisation, and personal shame, into identity pride. This became a connecting and empowering force in rallying against discrimination,” she said.

“To be able to march, celebrate our differences and be visible offers a rare opportunity to connect and to feel like we belong. Celebration is a big part of it, and the reason why pride is so important is because it is the opposite of shame. When you’re gay or queer or whatever, and when you have a disability, you’re taught to be ashamed of those things, since they are often treated as personal inadequacies.

“Mardi Gras represents the opposite of that. It is such a pivotal event on the LGBTIQA+ movement because it was about combating the social isolation that we face. It’s about celebrating diversity and difference. We can all come together, be ourselves and just have a great time.”

As the ‘Fearless Express’ float ambassador, Georgia will spearhead a colourful crowd of people with disability and organisations passionate about creating a more inclusive society in Saturday’s Mardi Gras Parade.

She explained being able to access public transport is essential for people with disability to be able to work, study, socialise and “just do normal, everyday things.”

“If society made a small effort to increase access, people with disability could work and be out contributing to the world. Having access not only benefits us, but the elderly or parents with prams – everybody, our whole society benefits,” she stated.

“Accessibility makes society better, and our communities stronger.”

The ‘Fearless Express’ float brings together five disability organisations – Northcott, Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA), National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and People with Disability Australia (PWDA). People with disability and these organisations worked together to decide on the theme, which highlights the barriers that are frequently encountered by people with disability that can make it harder to participate fully in all aspects of community life.

These organisations share a common goal of raising awareness of the right to inclusion and sexual expression for people with disability, while celebrating the ongoing involvement of people with disability in Mardi Gras.

The ‘Fearless Express’ float is a proud recipient of a Google Mardi Gras Parade Grant.

The vibrant Parade will proudly march down Oxford and Flinders Streets in Sydney on Saturday 2 March from 7pm. You can watch it live on SBS here and keep your eyes open for the ‘Fearless Express’!

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You can view some of Georgia’s writing and performances at her website: www.georgiacranko.com

Interested in attending other events like Mardi Gras? Check out our events page to see what is coming up.

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