Guide Dogs NSW/ACT proudly participated in the 2023 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with their giant fibre-glass Labrador, Gulliver, leading its float.
Clients with low vision or blindness, their friends and family, staff, and ambassador Dolly Diamond marched alongside Gulliver in the float entitled ‘We See Love’.
In addition to the float, Guide Dogs offered an audio description to clients seated within the parade’s official accessible viewing area, as well as those marching in the parade, to provide them with a detailed description of the parade and its surrounds.
The theme of this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Sydney WorldPride is ‘Gather, Dream, Amplify’, which aligns with Guide Dogs’ commitment to accessibility, inclusion, freedom, and choice for people with low vision or blindness.
Guide Dogs said it was important for future or potential clients to see that Guide Dogs organisations are committed to access and inclusion for all and that they are a welcoming organisation who is here to help regardless of a person’s gender identity, sexuality, cultural or linguistic background, financial situation, or any other factor.
“It is often the case that people with low vision or blindness experience greater levels of social isolation and depression due to difficulties in navigating their communities and events.
“We want to ensure our clients have the opportunity to lead a life of their choosing, to participate safely in large scale, iconic events like the Mardi Gras if they so wish, and encourage inclusion and access for all,” said a spokesperson for Guide Dogs.
Gulliver, the 4.3 metre fibre-glass Labrador Guide Dog, was dressed in a multicoloured costumer created by artist Nicole Barakat, which was first worn at his debut appearance at the 2020 parade.
Guide Dogs previously participated in the official parade in 2020 and has provided clients with orientation and mobility support and audio description services in 1999, 2021, and 2022.