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Proudly Sydney

Member stories: two decades of Mardi Gras

Swans prepare for Mardi Gras The Sydney Swans prepare for the Mardi Gras.

Rainbow Swans member Dennis Ridewood first marched in the Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney Swans colours back in 1998.

Some 20 years on, he will be part of the club’s first Mardi Gras float when players, staff, members and corporate partners come together to promote the message that everyone is welcome at the football.

Twenty years ago, back in 1998 when I had become a full Swans member, I had the idea of representing the Gay and Lesbian Sydney Swans Supporters into the Mardi Gras. Together with some friends and Swans supporters, not all who identified as being gay, we came up with the term Spansexual to encompass all sexualities which represented our group in that year’s Mardi Gras.

I contacted the Swans and they were happy to support our entry, even lending a dozen of the players gurnseys, which I had to return a few days after the parade, together with footy balls, bunting etc.

Around two dozen Swans supporters marched that year. We were also sponsored by a local Oxford street shop, Chef Revival.

The following year in 1999, I again organised the Swans supporters and again we had full support from the Sydney Swans – they generously gave us a number of training shirts for our participants. The Beauchamp Hotel became our sponsor and they also arranged to show the games at the Hotel, making it one of the first Gay AFL supporters bars in Sydney.

Together with the support of the Swans, we arranged fundraisers and raffles for the Luncheon Club.

The 1999 parade had around 30 participants and I was interviewed for the broadcast.

I was very happy to hear of the development of the Rainbow Swans and the Sydney Swans agreeing to be part of the 40th anniversary of the Mardi Gras parade – some 20 years after they assisted me in the 1998 parade. 

I have now been a 21-year member of the Swans and hope they have a great 2018 season.