A forum hosted by Green Left at the Sydney Resistance Centre on February 28 highlighted ongoing struggles by LGBTIQ radical activists in a highly corporatised World Pride.
The speakers were Mark Gillespie, a '78er and Sydney Declaration of LGBTQ+ Rights’ project activist; Kerry Bashford, a Newcastle-based writer, journalist, performer and committed queer activist and socialist for 40 years; Dr. Markela Panegyres, trade union activist and LGBTIQ campaigner; and Skip Blofield, a Pride in Protest activist and Mardi Gras Board member.
The forum was introduced and chaired by Rachel Evans, a longstanding LGBTIQ activist and the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Heffron in the March 25 NSW state election.
Bashford posed the question: "Could any of those rebels and revolutionaries have imagined that fighting the police for the right to protest, to be heard and seen, would one day be co-opted into the mainstream marketing landscape... of average blue chip companies?
"Could any of those 'rioters' have imagined that one day their bravery would be branded?
"This was not what they imagined with the slogan of that night in 1978: Out of the bars and on to the streets!"
All speakers expressed their solidarity with independent First Nations Senator Lidia Thorpe's symbolic protest to challenge police participation in the Mardi Gras march on February 25.
The media’s coverage of Senator Thorpe’s protest has "largely been a right-wing beat up", said Blofield.
"One should not be surprised that there was a protest at something commemorating a protest."
"Every Mardi Gras, we '78ers are going to be rolled out like dinosaur relics as evidence of long past battles," said Gillespie. "Yes, we are very proud that our standing up to the police in 1978 sparked a revolution but people shouldn’t think that the revolution has already been won."