LGBTIQ-accredited aged care facility Arcare Parkwood helped its Gold Coast residents join last weekend’s Mardi Gras celebrations with a colourful and camp party.
Residents, staff and family were all invited to the Mardi Gras bash at the residence, coinciding with last weekend’s Parade.
Staff covered the facility in rainbow as guests wore colourful feather boas, diamantes and wigs, including 96-year-old resident Mary Johnson (above right).
But it was Arcare Parkwood’s Lifestyle Coordinator Gary Barrett who was the main event on the day.
Barrett moonlights as Coast drag queen Tia Maria. On the weekend, he put on a dazzling frock and belted out big songs from Shirley Bassey to Cher for the residents.
Gary started lip-sync performing in 1997. At a major competition, he met two other drag queens who invited him to join their show.
Now, Gary regularly performs as Tia Maria at The Chameleon Lounge on the Gold Coast.
“The best thing about doing drag is meeting wonderful people, no matter who and where they are,” he said.
“I decided to perform at Arcare Parkwood’s Mardi Gras because the residents enjoy seeing the performances. I want to put a huge smile on their faces.
“It’s also about celebrating diversity and being inclusive.”
LGBTIQ elders fear discrimination in aged care
Sadly, on entering aged care, LGBTIQ elders often feel forced “go back into the closet” out of fear of discrimination on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity.
Aged care provider Arcare’s Parkwood community opened its doors in late 2019.
The residence has Rainbow Tick Accreditation and an aim of providing a groundbreaking level of support to Queensland’s LGBTIQ elders.
Located in Parkwood in the Gold Coast hinterland, the residence offers 91 five-star suites. Other facilities also include a wellbeing centre, theatre, hair salon, private dining, activity and entertaining areas, and 24/7 nursing care.
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