February is a very gay month in Sydney. It is Mardi Gras season again, which features a month-long festival of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer cultures in Sydney. And this year, Mardi Gras Festival sprinkles its rainbow glitter all over Sydney University...
Not wanting to be left out of the celebrations, Sydney University will be home to some exciting events in February for Mardi Gras. Heading the list is an afternoon tea with some leading Australian academics on sexuality, who will be discussing the "uses and abuses" of historical perceptions of ancient same-sex love. The forum which will be held in the Nicholson Museum, will feature historian and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Stephen Garton, and head of the Gender and Cultural Studies department, Professor Elspeth Probyn. The proceedings, which are promised to be "highly entertaining", will be followed by cream tea.
Other events to take place at Sydney Uni include a netball competition in the Sports and Acquatic Centre and a queer Arab dance party, Club Arak, at Manning Bar.
Queer facts about Sydney Uni
1. The first Mardi Gras parade in 1978, which is seen as a seminial moment in the Australian gay rights movement, was organised from Sydney Uni. Meetings to organise the parade took place in the Mills Building on Fisher Rd - now the home of the Sociology department.
2. The Laramie Project, a play about the homophobic murder of American teenager, Matthew Sheppard, played in the Cellar Theatre (home of the Sydney University Dramatic Society) in 2004. The season recieved threats from a nortorious American evangelist church who threatened to picket the opening night with "God Hates F**gs" placards. This "Christian" group, which has become infamous for turning up at the funerals of people who have died of AIDS with similar homophobic signs, thankfully were no where to be seen. The publicity surrounding the threat however ensured that the season sold-out and all profits were donated to AIDS charities.
3. Each year a cross-campus float brings together university students from across NSW/ACT and beyond to march in Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. Since 2004, the float has been organised out of Sydney University, which has hosted colourful lawn workshops during O-Week making props and costumes for the parade.
4. Between 1994 and 2003, Sydney University was home to the now-defunct Australian Centre for Lesbian and Gay Research. The Centre, which promoted academic research into issues facing gays and lesbians, invited noted academics to address staff and students at the University. The Centre also promoted conferences working towards documenting Australia's gay and lesbian history, as well as publishing some leading research on homelessness and workplace discrimination faced by lesbians and gay men.
5. Widely-published Sydney University academic and Associate Professor of Law, Jenni Millbank, has recently been commissioned by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to author a research paper into all legislation which discriminates against people living in same-sex relationships. The paper is being used to inform the national inquiry into legal inequalities faced by lesbian and gay couples. Jenni currently teaches in the Faculty of Law and is one of Australia's leading experts in sexuality and the law.
5. The University of Sydney Union runs a year-long program for queer students on campus, which includes social events & parties, coming out discussion groups, pride festivities, forums and a queer space. For more information, contact the Queer Convenors or check out the USU website.
The USU Queer Space welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people and those questioning their sexuality. Queer Space has a microwave, lounges and free coffee/tea facilities, as well as safe-sex information and the latest gay and lesbian publications. Queer Space is located on Level 1 in the Holme Building (near the Cellar Theatre).
"Classical Fantasies: The Use and Abuse of Ancient Same-Sex Love" will be held in the Nicholson Museum, Main Quadrangle. 25 Feb 2007, 2pm - 5pm. Full $25, NMG Members, Friends of the Nicholson Museum $20. For Bookings: 02 9351 2812 or email@example.com.