Poet and artist with disability, Georgia Cranko, is calling on everyone to jump aboard the ‘Fearless Express’ Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras float to raise awareness about the need for more accessible public transport for people with disability.
As the ‘Fearless Express’ float ambassador, Ms Cranko will spearhead a colourful crowd of people with disability and organisations passionate about creating a more inclusive society in Saturday’s Mardi Gras Parade.
Ms Cranko said being able to access public transport was 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 accessibility, there would be a lot more opportunities for people with disability to work and contribute to the world,” Ms Cranko said.
“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’s about expressing your sexuality fearlessly and celebrating diversity.
“Mardi Gras is such a pivotal event in the LGBTIQA+ movement because it is about combating the social prejudice that we face. We can all come together, be proud of who we are and just have a great time.
“To be able to march in the Mardi Gras Parade, celebrate our differences and be visible offers a rare opportunity to connect and to feel like we belong.”
The ‘Fearless Express’ float brings together five disability organisations – People with Disability Australia, Women With Disabilities Australia, Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Northcott, and the National Disability Insurance Agency. 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.
While CPA, Northcott and PWDA have entered a joint float since 2014, disability inclusion in Mardi Gras started years earlier, with major events such as the Australian Theatre of the Deaf’s performance of Deaf and Gay at the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival in 1999. This inclusion expanded in the early 2000s with representation from Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) and Touching Base. CPA partnered with SWOP and Touching Base, and then PWDA, CPA, Northcott and Family Planning NSW from 2010 to form one large parade entry.
The 2019 Mardi Gras theme is ‘FEARLESS’ to acknowledge the way LGBTQA+ people across the globe courageously express who they are.
The ‘Fearless Express’ float is a proud recipient of a Google Mardi Gras Parade Grant.
People with Disability Australia
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a non-profit, non-government, national disability rights and advocacy organisation. The organisation’s primary membership is made up of people with disability and organisations primarily constituted by people with disability.
Cerebral Palsy Alliance
Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) provides world-class, evidence-based therapies, services and supports for people living with a range neurological and physical disabilities. They provide a holistic, one-stop-shop that focuses on the mind and body to help people achieve their best.
Northcott is a not-for-profit disability services organisation that works with customers to unlock, discover and unleash their potential through a range of support services. Their purpose is to build an inclusive society where people can live the life they choose.
Women With Disabilities Australia
Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. WWDA is run by women with disabilities, for women with disabilities. It is the only organisation of its kind in Australia and one of only a very small number internationally.
National Disability Insurance Agency
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is the agency responsible for implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS is the new way of providing support for Australians with disability, their families and carers.
About Georgia Cranko
Georgia is an innate social agitator with a sharp wit and passion for challenging the normative social consciousness. With a unique voice, a quirky body and an equally quirky mind, she shares her lived experiences to positively change the world. Georgia gives presentations and lectures on identity politics, disability and communication to universities and disability organisations. She is a performer and a published writer, most notably in the Guardian. You can view some of Georgia’s writing and performances at her website: www.georgiacranko.com (External website)