Club: Different Strokes Dragon Boat Club
Sport: Dragon Boat
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Different Strokes is a Sydney-based dragon boat club that predominantly caters for the gay and lesbian community. Our members consist of individuals who identify themselves as gay or lesbian, as well as their friends, family and supporters. Our members range in age from 18 to 73 and are almost equally split between genders.
The Club, formed in 2008, has grown from a modest 10 members at the start of the 2009/2010 season, to over 105 members as at January 2019. This growth has seen us become one of the largest clubs in NSW and with representatives in both the NSW and Australian Dragon Boat teams.
After years of continuous improvement, we are positioning ourselves as more than just a social club reaching our first finals in 2010/11. Our race crews have continued to raise the bar at regattas, with wins and placings in finals and State Championships, as well as member representation at both the state and Australian level. In 2018 we travelled to Szeged, Hungary to compete internationally in the 11th IDBF Club Crew World Championships. We see the reasons for this being our promotion of equality and a healthy competitive spirit, while keeping the social aspects of the club friendly, involving and fun.
Timing within a dragon boat characterizes the unity of our community. A boat needs to work together as a team to move forward. That same togetherness is what drives us towards our goals of recognition and equality. As individuals, we challenge ourselves to reach as far as we can, and when we think we've reached our limit, to reach that little bit more. We extend ourselves beyond the perceived limits of gender, age, and orientation, and break stereotypes by confronting them, gripped-paddle first.
It takes using the core muscles in one's body to ensure maximum power is extracted when making a stroke. Similarly, it takes strength of character to stand up for one‚Äôs fundamental beliefs, challenge the idea of normalcy, and say that change needs to occur. More often than not, it is an increase in visibility that helps push along this change.
As a club, we are keen to contribute to the sport while growing our reputation within the gay and lesbian community. Our now regular appearances in the Mardi Gras parade have provided the opportunity to share our love of the sport. Our most recent entry "Fearless Freakshow" was highly commended by the parade organisers and displayed to the world through the live telecast.
A major feature of our success has been the warmth of the acceptance from other dragon boat clubs. Indeed, the Club owes much to people from other clubs who helped us on our journey and who encouraged from our start.
The Club is enormously proud of our achievements. We treasure the friendships we have formed, celebrate our successes and laugh at, and learn from, our mishaps. It is that very diversity of experience that brings us together and keeps us coming back for more.