SYDNEY [Australia]March 1, 2022 – American Express, principal partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG), today announces the inaugural American Express My First Mardi Gras Community Program, in partnership with LGBTQIA + community organizations, Minus18 and Rainbow Families.
Designed to build connections for more isolated members of the LGBTQIA + community and provide a platform for them to express their true selves, the program will see three individuals and one family travel to Sydney to experience, for the first time, all the glitter and glam of the SGLMG Parade.
Each My First Mardi Gras recipient will be supported in their journey by LGBTQIA + activist and fashion stylist, Deni Todorovič, the official ambassador of the program.
Beyond the SGLMG, American Express will provide financial backing and support of its national Pride + colleague network to help bolster the outstanding work of Minus18 and Rainbow Families to improve education and tolerance within the wider Australian community in support of LGBTQIA + youth and families.
LGBTQIA + activist and My First Mardi Gras Community Program ambassador, Дени Тодорович
My First Mardi Gras Community Program Ambassador, Deni Todorovic says, “As a full-time advocate for the entire community alphabet, having the opportunity to work with American Express to bring this community program to life is something I’m so grateful for. If this kind of program had been around when little Deni was growing up, I can only imagine how different my experience as part of the community would have been. I’m so excited to support my First Mardi Gras recipients as a mentor and be a part of their first Mardi Gras journey. ”
Identified through Minus18 and Rainbow Families’ networks, and traveling to Sydney from across the country, the My First Mardi Gras recipients: Felicity, Noah, Sabrina, partners Tammy and Karen and their child Archie, will receive a fun-filled itinerary, to ensure their first Mardi Gras is an experience of a lifetime.
The itinerary will see them receive a golden ticket to some of the best seats in the house where they’ll take in the spectacular parade, including a showstopping performance by Australian music icon Vanessa Amorosi, who will take center stage on the American Express float. Each My First Mardi Gras recipient will also get to connect with the original Mardi Gras participants, the 78ers.
Corrina Davison, Managing Director, American Express Australia says, “For our first year as Principal Partner of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras we wanted to give LGBTQIA + people, who would not have otherwise had the opportunity, the chance to have an incredible first time Mardi Gras experience.
“As an organization that strongly values and embraces differences and unique perspectives, we hope that this program supports LGBTQIA + people to express their true selves, while fostering deep long-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 connecting with their community is life-changing. Giving this opportunity to young people from outside of Sydney and to hear their stories is incredibly special. Mardi Gras is an opportunity to celebrate LGBTQIA + pride, and to reflect on what we can do to ensure no one in our community is left behind in our journey towards equality. ”
Rainbow Families Executive Officer, Ashley Scott says, “Mardi Gras is such a fun and significant time of the year. For LGBTQIA + parents it is so important to be proud of who we are, and for our kids to see that they are part of a diverse and accepting community. The My First Mardi Gras Community Program will not only help create lasting memories for families, it will also shine a light on the experience of more isolated LGBTQIA + parents as well as their children. ”
To follow along with the My First Mardi Gras recipients’ journeys and keep across all activity, head to the AmexAU Instagram account. To learn more about American Express’ involvement in Mardi Gras visit www.americanexpress.com.au
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
Felicity (she / her) – Queensland
Felicity, who identifies as lesbian, is a former student of a Christian college in Brisbane. Despite her young age (19), Felicity has gone on to become an advocate for LGBTQIA + rights and was delighted when her former college aborted plans to force parents to sign a contract denouncing homosexuality and promising students would conform to gender roles. Felicity has come from a conservative upbringing but has built a strong support network around her. When speaking about attending her first Mardi Gras and the impact this would have on her, she said, “It would mean the absolute world. Just to be there surrounded by the community it would mean so much and reaffirm just how incredible my community is, especially at this scale. I’ve dreamed of going my whole life as well as being able to share my experience with my network and show how incredible 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 years old). Tammy and Karen were one of the first LGBTQIA + couples to officially tie the knot in December 2017, the day after the same-sex marriage bill passed in parliament. Describing what attending their Mardi Gras with their family would mean to them Tammy said, “For our son to be able to see other families that are the same as his will really be a life-changing experience.”
Noah (he / him) – Victoria
Growing up in Tasmania, Noah relocated to Melbourne after coming out as gay and bisexual to his family. Noah had reservations about coming out, however when he finally told his family, his parents were both incredibly accepting and are now his biggest cheerleaders. Since moving to Melbourne, Noah has become more connected to the community and 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 a lawn with body positivity in the past, I am a strong advocate for this and can’t wait to see the diversity of the crowd attending the event firsthand,” Noah said.
Sabrina (she / 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 connecting with the LGBTQIA + community during COVID to be very hard, as opportunities to attend events were limited. When asked what attending Mardi Gras would mean to her, she said, “It would be a victorious and triumphant moment. 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, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.Learn more at americanexpress.com.au and connect with us on www.facebook.com/americanexpressaustralia, instagram. com / amexau, linkedin.com/company/american-express, https://twitter.com/AmexAU and youtube.com/americanexpressau
Minus18 is Australia’s charity improving the lives of LGBTQIA + youth. Through a preventive model of mental health support, we tackle social isolation by creating fun-filled spaces where LGBTQIA + young people belong and are celebrated. Youth are at the forefront of our events – and through this we’re equipping LGBTQIA + young people with the skills they need to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Creating an Australia free from discrimination is a job for everyone, and we can’t do it alone. For schools and workplaces all across Australia, we provide LGBTQIA + inclusion training and free digital resources to create a world where LGBTQIA + young people are safe and belong
ABOUT RAINBOW FAMILIES
Rainbow Families is a not-for-profit charity, providing a network of support to children and families within the LGBTQ + community. We work on behalf of the LGBTQ + community, providing research, education and information to address discrimination and disadvantages, raise awareness, and promote acceptance for LGBTQ + families.