THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
Stock up on glitter, throw on your brightest outfit and lace up the dancing shoes because the 2017 annual Mardi Gras is this weekend and it’s going to be fabulous
What better way to prove a point than by throwing a massive party? That’s what Faustina Agolley, who will host Australia’s biggest celebration of LGBTQI culture this weekend, reckons about the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
“The gays have always been quite clever about inclusion and making a point without bludgeoning people over the head with it,” she says.
“Mardi Gras is a nice welcoming door into a community of acceptance and celebrating diversity and I think it’s good for people struggling with their sexuality to see so many people who are owning theirs.
“It’s a nice positive approach rather than lecturing people or giving a speech.
“This is probably one of the most effective ways to do it – with glitter, colours, costumes and love.”
Although this is Faustina’s second year hosting the celebrations, prior to that she felt “too closeted” to attend, so never did.
“I came out just shy of two years ago, on my birthday,” she recounts.
“I thought it was bizarre that I’d never been before, I hadn’t been to pride parties.
“I was just that unknowing of my own self that I didn’t even know I was living in the gay mecca of Australia and that it even applied to me.
“Then I moved to LA and still didn’t realise I was living in the gay mecca of the world.
“So many missed opportunities.”
It was her announcement that led to SBS offering Faustina the opportunity of a lifetime, and they must have been pumped to suddenly have such a perfect ambassador.
“When I came out I put it on Instagram and it was just so wonderfully received,” she says.
“I didn’t know what to expect from followers or the public in general then it turned into this news thing.
“I just wanted to share a positive message of the struggles of coming out.
“When SBS asked if I wanted to host Mardi Gras luckily I had about a year to prepare, if I’d had to do it straight away I don’t think I could have done it.
“But it was a year later so it gave me a chance for the gayness to marinate on me.”
Now she couldn’t be more excited for the big event, and as a host she’ll have one of the best seats in the house.
“We’ll be spending the evening on Oxford Street at a cool vantage point and capturing most of the floats that pass by and just over 12,000 people marching,” she explains.
“I know the theme this year is creating equality.
“Joel Creasey and Em Rusciano are both new this year and they’re very chatty comedians, there’ll be lots of riff raff, so I’ll hold down the fort and lay down some knowledge.
“I’ll be there giving cuddles and handing out rainbow stickers.”
While the rainbow stickers are obviously crucial, there’s also a serious side to the event, steered by Patrick Abboud.
“One of the distinct differences this year is that we’ll be talking to each of the float leaders about what their float means to them,” she says.
“There’ll also be some stories in between, more in depth stories directed by Patrick Abboud, an SBS journalist who invented the show The Feed – he’s a really bright guy.
“He’s spent months working on in depth stories of family members coming out, people parading for the first time – people with awesome stories.”
For Faustina, she’ll be keeping her eye out for a couple of personal favourite floats during the parade .
“I’m really excited because there’s two George Michael floats, it’ll be quite poignant and a stark reminder of a great musical legend.
“I also suggested to Streets that there should be a Golden Gaytime float, it seems logical to me.
“That’s my dream, I’ll do whatever they want if they pay me in Golden Gaytimes.”
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras airs on SBS at 7.30pm QLD time, Sunday March 5.
Joel Creasey and Em Rusciano join Faustina Agolley and Patrick Abboud to host the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on SBS.