This year to celebrate the 46th Sydney Mardi Gras, the QVB is heroing the next generation of changemakers in the community. Together, we’re celebrating the unique stories of these boundary pushers, as their restlessness for a better future creates long-lasting change.
Benjamin Law’s job description is hard to narrow down to one, or even two, things. He’s a writer, known for works like The Family Law (2010) which was subsequently turned into a television series and Gaysia (2013), a podcaster, a reality television star, a screenwriter — you get the idea. As a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, February — otherwise known as Mardi Gras month — is one of Law’s favourite times of year. From revelling in the rainbow glory that is Oxford Street during the month to celebrating the vibrant LGBTQIA+ community (and getting “all-out messy” in the process), this is how Law marks the Mardi Gras festivities.
Watch Ben's Unruly video at the link here, and read on below to learn more about his work within the LGBTQIA+ community (as well as his top tips for surviving Mardi Gras!).
When casting talent and crew we ensure a strong representation of diversity including members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community
Photographer: Joe Brennan | Styling: Petta Chua | Hair: Sophie Roberts | Make-up: Gillie Campbell
Tell us about yourself, and what brings you to collaborating with the QVB for Unruly?
Look, I’m queer, I love Mardi Gras, and as a Sydneysider, I find myself inside QVB pretty much every week. And yep, I’m restless for a change.
How has your imagination influenced your work?
I’m a storyteller: I write books, TV shows, plays and more. So imagination is my work. That’s right: my ancestors lived through wars, famines, worked in factories and fled ethnic violence only for this jerk to roll out of bed and have ideas for a living.
In less than five words, how would you describe a better future for the community?
Shake things up, but thoughtfully.
How important is speaking up and being your true self?
It sounds naff, but I honestly don’t know any other way of living.
How do you use your platform to inspire change?
When you're an outsider, the world isn’t a comfortable place for you, and you grow up wishing you could change. But when you get older – and when you accept yourself – you realise you weren’t the problem. The world around you was. So I do feel that responsibility to use the platform I have to tell stories about people you wouldn’t see otherwise.
You’ve accomplished so much, but where do you still hope to see change?
Our community is vast, which is why LGBTIQA+ is such a deliciously long string of letters. But it does mean that within the community, there are pockets that are far more vulnerable to others. And right now, I want to see everyone protecting trans and gender non-conforming youth, and ensuring they’re safe.
What are your three most powerful words in the world as a writer?
"Maybe I’m wrong."
My pronouns are…
During the week you will find me …
Hunched over a desk, bashing out stories for newspapers, magazines, theatres or TV.
but my real passion is…
… what I do during the week, actually. (Sick, I know.)
My fondest Mardi Gras memory is…
First time marching down Oxford Street for the parade, and then – during the worst of covid – marching with the ABC inside the SCG.
I prepare for all the festivities by…
Limiting my booze … so I can get all-out messy across February.
My must-have Mardi Gras accessory is…
Expensive boots; cheap jockstrap.
The best place to watch the parade is from…
Within. You never quite fathom the epic scope of the parade and the people watching until you’re marching inside it. It’s overwhelming, in the best possible way.
The best way to recover from the parade is …
Hitting the ocean. Gordon’s Bay. Redleaf. Obelisk, if your butt needs sun.
One thing I wish people knew about Mardi Gras is…
It started as a protest. The party is political. Chat to community elders and learn.
I love being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community because…
It’s a celebration of difference, and striving to be the same as everyone else is dull.
One way you can support LGBTQIA+ community this Mardi Gras is…
Give us your cold hard cash. (I mean it! Donate to the many brilliant LGBTIQA+ charities working in Australia to help queer people find safety and thrive in this country.)
To find out how you can support the LGBTQIA+ community, follow the link here for the QVB's roundup of some of the most impactful organisations you can donate to this Mardi Gras (and all year round).