Locals display pride ahead of Mardi Gras

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Rowena Bellingham is proudly taking part in the Mardi Gras. Photo: Melinda Jane

Celebrating the love, more than 70 students, staff and alumni of Western Sydney University (WSU) will participate in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade this weekend.

One proud student participating in the parade on Saturday, March 3, is Penrith’s Rowena Bellingham, who identifies as bisexual.

“I am marching for LGBTIQ people, I’m marching for them and for myself,” she said.

“I want to show that it’s an important part of pride, western Sydney loves everyone no matter what their status is.”

This is Ms Bellingham’s second year participating in Mardi Gras, describing last year as “a lot of fun”.

“I am one of the dancers this year, last year I was a marcher,” she said.

“Mardi Gras is a good way to let everything go, you don’t have to hide behind anyone and you can just be yourself.”

And she speaks from personal experience.

“Last year I told someone about marching in the Mardi Gras, and I actually got laughed at,” she said.

“This year I am taking part because I am who I am, and if you don’t like it, tough.”

Ms Bellingham no longer has contact with the person who laughed at her.

Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras began as a protest in 1978 and, over the past 40 years, has evolved into a powerful celebration of our diverse and resilient lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer communities.

This will be the fourth year WSU has marched at Mardi Gras, with this year’s float theme of ‘Love Unlimited’.

Ms Bellingham, who is also the Queer Officer for WSU’s Hawkesbury Campus, is letting students know that support is available.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover said WSU is strongly committed to the equality of its LGBTIQ students and staff.

“As a vibrant and diverse intellectual community, Western Sydney University is proud to promote a culture that is inclusive of sexual and gender diversity,” he said.

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