Sydney’s gay penguins Sphen and Magic to feature in Mardi Gras


sphen magic gay penguins
Photo: Sydney Sea Life Aquarium

Sydney’s gay penguin dads Sphen and Magic will feature in the 2021 Mardi Gras parade with a very important message.

The two penguins have been inseparable at Sydney’s Sea Life Aquarium since 2018. The duo made headlines around the world after hatching two chicks together.

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On March 6, the 43rd annual Mardi Gras parade will move from Sydney’s streets to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

And the NSW Teachers Federation’s float are featuring large inflatable versions of Sphen and Magic and their chicks.

With the aquarium’s support, the float will pay homage to the world-famous penguins while sending a message of love and support to all rainbow families, especially those with young children in school.

The Federation’s float’s two inflatable penguins will both wear rainbow bowties. And following the dapper duo will be smaller penguins, representing their two chicks.

Additional participants will wear sequin dinner jackets – penguin suits – and rainbow bowties while dancing and marching.

Sea Life Sydney’s General Manager Richard Dilly said it was “unbelievably exciting” to see their penguins in Mardi Gras.

“The partnership came about around the middle of 2020 when we realised the Federation was referencing Sphen and Magic in some of their training,” he said.

“Of course Sphen and Magic won’t join the parade in person because they need 3-4 degree temperatures. So they’ll be representing by two giant replicas.

“Young people need and deserve to see themselves reflected in the content that they learn at school.

“We hope Sphen and Magic’s inflatable replicas at Mardi Gras can contribute to ensuring this happens now and in the future.”

NSW Teachers Federation attacked for supporting gay penguins

The NSW Teachers Federation’s deputy communications secretary Mel Smith said they want more diverse families covered in NSW schools.

“In 2020, Federation was attacked by One Nation in NSW for encouraging teachers to incorporate diverse families in their curriculum,” she said.

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“We know that it’s vitally important for young people to see themselves reflected in the content that they learn. [This helps them] feel connected to their school experience, as well as to feel seen and acknowledged.

“Our float pays homage to Sphen, Magic and their two chicks. [The float] sends a message of love and support to all rainbow families – especially those with young children in school.

“The float sends a message that we will not be bullied into silence. We celebrate our LGBTIQ members, students and community – including our gay penguin neighbours.”

SBS is livestreaming this year’s Mardi Gras parade around Australia and worldwide on SBS On Demand and on SBS TV.

Drag superstar Courtney Act, comedians Joel Creasey and Zoë Coombs Marr, and journalist Narelda Jacobs are hosting SBS’ coverage.

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