Why former drag artist and gay advocate Craig Ralston looks forward to Mardi Gras

Originally published in The Daily Telegraph


Former drag artist Craig Ralston was targeted at the first Mardi Gras but says it did not stop him from becoming a vocal advocate for the gay community, more than four decades ago.

Mr Ralston, who now lives at the Bupa Aged Care Greenacre, is looking forward to this weekend’s parade, saying the first Mardi Gras in 1978 was pretty full on.

“But it didn’t let that stop me from carrying on as a normal gay man,” said Mr Ralston, who still can recall the aggressive anti-gay sentiments against him and the others at the first event.


‘Becoming Colleen’ stars Colleen Young.

“I came out when I was in my 20s and I’m 65 years old now.

“I had plenty of gay friends so support was great in that regard.

“I did plenty of drag at some of the clubs around Oxford St as well as The Entrance and Gosford in the RSL clubs where I used to work at the time.

“I’ve always felt comfortable here at Bupa, the staff always make sure we’re doing something fun and that we’re looked after.

“Am I looking forward to watching the Mardi Gras? I’ll be watching it on the TV with my party hat on.”

The home’s general manager Brooke Richards praised him for his pioneering work in the gay community

“LGBTQI ageing is a unique experience that needs a considered and consultative approach

which respects differences, embraces diversity and inclusivity,” Ms Richards said.

“Craig is such an inspiring role model to many people within our home.”

To make this year’s Mardi Gras special for Mr Ralston, Queer Screen’s board director Matt Janssen organised for him and his carer to attend the premiere screening of ‘Becoming Colleen’ during Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival.

The award-winning documentary is about Col Young affirming her identity and gender as Colleen.