Anthony Carthew, Executive Office
“My first Mardi Gras was in 1988 and, as a timid young lad from Broken Hill, I knew I’d found my spiritual home. I soon landed my first job in Sydney—receptionist at the AIDS Council of NSW, right at the peak of the HIV epidemic. The phones were ringing non-stop as people urgently needed information or just someone to talk to. Working there developed my sense of community.
"And Mardi Gras was always there to support and celebrate us, at a time of discrimination and misinformation—from politicians, media and general public alike. Many people I worked with were sick themselves, as the treatments weren’t working yet. But the camaraderie and bravery in our amazing community was truly inspiring. They were rainbow warriors, our good Samaritans.
“For the next 25 years, I proudly took my place on Oxford Street’s 'golden mile' as drag performer Amelia Airhead—and last year I had the privilege of producing the first Sydney Opera House float to take part in the Parade.
"For my entire adult life, Mardi Gras has been a constant affirmation to not only proudly live your authentic self, but to march, prance and party in honour of those courageous, hilarious and talented souls who fought so hard for the equality and respect we have always deserved.”