[by Anastasia Symons]
Mardi Gras Parade - R U OK? Because U Matter to Me
Sixty marchers emblazoned with ‘U Matter to Me’ joined the R U OK? float at the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Sydney Mardi Gras Parade.
While many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex (LGBTI) and other sexuality, gender and bodily diverse people live happy, healthy and productive lives, the National LGBTI Alliance reports the community continue to experience a higher risk of suicidal behaviours than non-LGBTI people.
R U OK? want their presence to be a vocal and visible reminder to check in and ask “Are you ok?”
R U OK? Ambassador and media personality Brooke Blurton travelled from Perth WA, to take part in the parade for first time.
“As a bisexual woman and Yamatji Noongar woman, being here to champion R U OK?’s ‘U Matter to Me’ message is a proud and emotional moment,” said Blurton.
“We’ve lost far too many people from our beautiful diverse Australian community, and we all have a part to play in decreasing the statistics. It’s so important we let the people around us know we genuinely care and are truly here to listen. A great place to start is asking ‘Are you ok? Because you matter to me” when we spot the signs they might be struggling with life.”
R U OK? have worked in close consultation with the National LGBTI Health Alliance to celebrate the diversity of the community in tonight’s parade. Marchers will include representatives from R U OK? partner organisations and community supporters. Some of those taking part have been touched by suicide and all are passionate about spreading the R U OK? message.
R U OK? Community Ambassador and mental health advocate Craig Mack, from Sydney, joined the R U OK? float and believes the ‘U Matter to Me’ message will encourage the community to talk and listen more, becoming more informed by hearing positive voices of support.
“What matters to us? Our LGBTI friends, family, adopted families and loved ones matter us. Their wellbeing matters to us. Ensuring they are supported, they feel connected and they feel a sense of belonging and identity matters to us. We want to ensure the people who make up our LGBTI community are protected from the path to suicide,” said Mack.
“To show them how much they matter – we check in and start regular meaningful conversations. We learn that asking “Are you OK” is easier and more powerful than we think, and we educate ourselves on what support is available. We want this community to hear, see and believe how much we support them and to know that we are genuinely here to listen.”
The R U OK? float is a grateful recipient of a Mardi Gras Community Parade Grant - proudly supported by Google.
In addition to a physical presence at the 2020 Gay and Lesbian Sydney Mardi Gras Festival, R U OK? were getting the message out through their ‘U Matter to Me’ online hub. The hub contains resources and shares real-life stories illustrating how to check in on your mates and loved ones in a meaningful way.
Visit: www.ruok.org.au to access these free, open source resources.
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