SYDNEY [Australia]March 1, 2022 – American Express, lead partner of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG), today announces the first American Express community program My First Mardi Gras, in partnership with LGBTQIA+ community organizations Minus18 and Rainbow Families.
Designed to connect the most isolated members of the LGBTQIA+ community and provide them with a platform to express their true selves, the program will see three people and a family travel to Sydney to experience, for the first time, everything the sparkle and glamor of the SGLMG fashion show.
Each recipient of My First Mardi Gras will be supported on their journey by LGBTQIA+ activist and fashion designer, Deni Todorovič, the program’s official ambassador.
Beyond the SGLMG, American Express will provide financial support and the support of its nationwide network of Pride+ colleagues to help strengthen the exceptional work of Minus18 and Rainbow Families to improve education and tolerance within the Australian community at in a broad sense in favor of LGBTQIA+ youth and families.
LGBTQIA+ activist and My First Mardi Gras community program ambassador, Deni Todorovič
My first Mardi Gras Community Program Ambassador, Deni Todorovič, says, “As a full-time advocate for the entire community alphabet, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with American Express to bring this community program to life. If this kind of program had existed when little Deni was growing up, I can only imagine how different my experience within the community would have been. I am thrilled to support My First Mardi Gras recipients as a mentor and be part of their first Mardi Gras journey.
Identified by the Minus18 and Rainbow Families networks, and traveling to Sydney from all over the country, the recipients of My First Mardi Gras: Felicity, Noah, Sabrina, their partners Tammy and Karen and their child Archie, will receive a fun itinerary, to s ensuring their first Mardi Gras is an unforgettable experience.
The itinerary will earn them a golden ticket to some of the best seats in the house where they will watch the spectacular parade, including a stunning performance by Australian music icon Vanessa Amorosi, who will take center stage. on the American Express tank. Each recipient of My First Mardi Gras will also be able to connect with the original Mardi Gras attendees, the 78ers.
Corrina Davison, Managing Director of American Express Australia, said: “For our first year as a Premier Partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, we wanted to give LGBTQIA+ people, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, the chance to have an incredible first moment of the Mardi Gras experience.
“As an organization that strongly values and embraces unique differences and perspectives, we hope this program will help LGBTQIA+ people to express themselves, while fostering deep and lasting connections with the wider LGBTQIA+ community. Beyond Mardi Gras, we look forward to partnering with Minus18 and Rainbow Families to create greater understanding and acceptance.
Minus18 CEO Micah Scott says, “For LGBTQIA+ youth, the first time they connect with their community is life changing. Giving this opportunity to young people from outside Sydney and hearing their stories is incredibly special. Mardi Gras is a time to celebrate LGBTQIA+ pride and reflect on what we can do to ensure no one in our community is left behind on our journey to equality.
Ashley Scott, Rainbow Families General Manager, said, “Mardi Gras is such a fun and important time of year. For LGBTQIA+ parents, it is so important to be proud of who we are, and for our children to see that they are part of a diverse and tolerant community. The My First Mardi Gras community program will not only help create lasting memories for families, but it will also shine a light on the experience of more isolated LGBTQIA+ parents and their children.
To follow the journeys of My First Mardi Gras recipients and follow all the activities, go to the AmexAU Instagram account. To learn more about American Express’ participation in Mardi Gras, visit www.americanexpress.com.au
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
Felicity (her) – Queensland
Felicity, who identifies as a lesbian, is a former student of a Christian college in Brisbane. Despite her young age (19), Felicity became an advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and was thrilled when her former college dropped plans to force parents to sign a contract denouncing homosexuality and promising that students would abide by gender roles. Felicity comes from a conservative upbringing but has built a strong support network around her. Speaking of attending her first Mardi Gras and the impact it would have on her, she said, “It would mean the absolute world. Just being there surrounded by the community would mean so much and reaffirm how amazing my community is, especially on this scale. I have dreamed of going there all my life as well as being able to share my experience with my network and show how amazing the community is.
Tammy and Karen (she/her) – New South Wales
Tammy and Karen will be attending their first Mardi Gras with their son Archie (14). Tammy and Karen were one of the first LGBTQIA+ couples to officially wed in December 2017, the day after the Same-Sex Marriage Bill passed Parliament. Describing what it would mean to them to attend their Mardi Gras with their family, Tammy said: “For our son to be able to see other families who are the same as his is truly going to be a life changing experience.”
Noah (he/him) – Victoria
Growing up in Tasmania, Noah moved to Melbourne after coming out as gay and bisexual to his family. Noah had reservations about coming out, but when he finally told his family, his parents both incredibly accepted and are now his biggest cheerleaders. Since moving to Melbourne, Noah has become more connected to the community and has recently completed a degree in politics and aspires to be a policy maker in the areas of equality and diversity, as well as an advocate for body positivity. “Having struggled with body positivity in the past, I’m a strong advocate for it and can’t wait to see the diversity of the crowd attending the event first hand,” Noah said.
Sabrina (her) – Victoria
Since coming out as bisexual, 16-year-old Sabrina has fully embraced her sexuality and feels very lucky to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Sabrina found it very difficult to connect with the LGBTQIA+ community during COVID as opportunities to attend events were limited. When asked what it would mean to her to attend Mardi Gras, she replied, “It would be a victorious and triumphant time. It would be validation that it was all worth it.
ABOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS
American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, ideas and experiences that enrich lives and drive business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com.au and connect with us at www.facebook.com/americanexpressaustralia, instagram. com/amexau, linkedin.com/company/american-express, https://twitter.com/AmexAU and youtube.com/americanexpressau
Minus18 is an Australian charity that improves the lives of young LGBTQIA+ people. Through a preventative model of mental health support, we fight social isolation by creating fun spaces where LGBTQIA+ youth belong and are celebrated. Young people are at the forefront of our events – and through this we equip young LGBTQIA+ people with the skills they need to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Creating an Australia without discrimination is everyone’s job, and we cannot do it alone. For schools and workplaces across Australia, we provide LGBTQIA+ inclusion training and free digital resources to create a world where young LGBTQIA+ people are safe and belong
ABOUT RAINBOW FAMILIES
Rainbow Families is a non-profit, charitable organization, providing a network of support for children and families within the LGBTQ+ community. We work on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community, providing research, education and information to address discrimination and disadvantage, raise awareness and promote acceptance for LGBTQ+ families.