In 2012, a handful of people on a small online community decided to meet up in Sydney. Seven years and over 2.6k members later, it's safe to say they've achieved their goal of creating a safe space for LGBTQI+ people to embrace their love of gaming and all things 'geeky'.
I bet, even with all their success, that they wouldn't even believe they would be collaborating with Square Enix's Final Fantasy® XIV Online to create a parade float for Sydney's Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. These are amogst the first images of the float to be unveiled after the event took place on Saturday 2nd March.
The float, which made its debut during the 2019 Parade Night, saw inflatables of a Moogle, Cactuar and Cherry Bomb take centre stage while 80 marchers made up from members of both the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online and Sydney Gaymers’ communities celebrated around it under the banner “Realms United”.
The collaboration was first announced in February 2019, and marks the coming together of Australia’s 2,600-strong Sydney Gaymer community with the critically-acclaimed MMO. At the time, Naoki Yoshida, Final Fantasy XIV Online Producer and Director, said:
“This collaboration could never have been realised without the efforts of our community. When FFXIV took part in PAX Australia, it was the FFXIV players in Australia who offered us the greatest welcome and utmost support. This led on to our community and Sydney Gaymers working together to make the collaboration a reality. To see it makes me very happy indeed, both as the person in charge of FFXIV and also as just another player of the game. FFXIV is another world that continues to grow and expand online. In that world people become adventurers, known as the Warriors of Light, and can continue to be free. I would like to continue developing this world, hand in hand with communities across the globe.”
Online games allow people to construct their own identities, as opposed to being imposed upon by societal face-values, and as such have become an important part of the LGBTQI+ community and acadaemic study of contemporary culture. Organiser for Sydney Gaymers, Peak Distapan, touches more on this:
“Sydney Gaymers is thrilled to be collaborating with Final Fantasy XIV Online for its 2019 float entry, titled Realms United. It means so much to receive direct support, validation and acknowledgement from such a force in the industry. Not only that, to be supported by a game where so much of our community and values are represented. The Final Fantasy XIV Online community does not discriminate and respects everyone’s freedom and their individual values equally. For many LGBTQI+ people, online communities provide a space for the journey and exploration of personal identities They allow us to connect, and celebrate, and they reinforce that we are not alone. Sydney Gaymers could not have a better sponsor to help create the most ambitious float it has ever undertaken.”
Now in its 41st year, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is an annual two-week long festival to celebrate the power and diversity of the LGBTQI+ community, culminating in a parade through central Sydney, Australia. The bustling extravaganza brings Sydney to a standstill and shines a global spotlight on LGBTQI+ lives, culture, communities and creativity. Sydney Gaymers entered its fifth year participating in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade in 2019.