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    Here's How Supportive Mardi Gras Corporate Sponsors Actually Are

    Party hard, spend big.

    Business sponsors of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras have been out in full force recently, with ANZ Bank GAY-TMs, Telstra Disco-Infono rainbow phone booths, Uber Mardi Cars and Airbnb's Big Gay Stay promotion.

    However, each of these ventures has been accompanied by criticism from some corners of the LGBT community, who believe corporate support of LGBT pride events is tokenistic and largely a profit-making venture.

    Supporting companies are increasingly going beyond just having a stall at Fair Day and a float in the Mardi Gras parade, with LGBT-themed installations popping up around the city and providing free advertising for their makers via social media. But how do the 2015 supporters stack up in terms of supporting the LGBT community the rest of the year? BuzzFeed News spoke to some of the most visible.

    ANZ Bank copped flak recently for its GAYTM promotion in Australia and New Zealand, where machines decorated to celebrate the Auckland Pride Festival were doused in pale pink paint by queer activists.

    Our 'Super Duper Heroes' #GAYTM has come out to party for @sydneymardigras . You're all super, just the way you are!

    The vandalism was intended as a protest against "pinkwashing", a phrase used to describe companies that get involved in LGBT pride celebrations to generate profits and good public image. While the protest has not affected ANZ's support for Mardi Gras, it has started a conversation about the motivations behind various companies who do choose to support the festival.

    Melissa Tandy, Chair of the ANZ Pride Network, told BuzzFeed News that ANZ had sponsored Mardi Gras since 2007. "ANZ internally takes diversity and inclusion very seriously and our partnership with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras provides a great opportunity to show our support for diversity in a public sense," she said.

    The ANZ Pride Network, formalised in 2013, is used as a contact point and means of support for LGBTI employees and allies at ANZ. The group is involved in various LGBT-specific activities beyond Mardi Gras, including World Aids Day, the inaugural Pink Dot event in Hong Kong, Coast Out on the Central Coast and Feast in Adelaide.

    Along with ANZ's Sydney GAYTMs and parade float, the company also ran a contest to put a GAYTM in another Australian town, which was won by Daylesford in Victoria.

    Some funds generated by ANZ's Mardi Gras sponsorship will go back to the community. If you use a GAYTM and you're not an ANZ customer, that pesky ATM fee will be donated to Twenty10, a highly worthy charity that supports LGBT people and their families. Fees generated from the GAYTM in Daylesford will go to a local community centre.

    The GAYTM protest has sparked an ongoing debate about whether corporatisation is to be welcomed or eschewed by the LGBT community.

    Seriously. Mardi gras isnt about flogging your product you bunch of corporate fucks. @ANZ_AU is about to lose my custom (hint: a lot of $)

    Pink paint queers attack ANZ again. Little do they realise that w/o corporate involvement, events like Midsumma & Mardi Gras wouldn't exist.

    Telstra has jumped on board with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for the first time this year, after sponsoring Melbourne pride festival Midsumma for the past five years.

    We've been out and about having some fun in prep for #MardiGras! Have you spotted our #discoinfono's yet?

    Troy Roderick, Telstra General Manager for Diversity and Inclusion, told BuzzFeed News that Telstra is "really excited to have the opportunity to build on [its] community involvement". Telstra have followed ANZ's lead in providing LGBT-themed installations around the city, with rainbow phone booths termed 'Disco-Infonos' after the popular '70s hit Disco Inferno.

    Telstra has an LGBT employee ally network with members from across Australia and the Phillipines. It also has an Executive LGBTI Champion group consisting of 40 Telstra executives who act as "visible champions of LGBTI inclusion".

    Roderick provided a list of various LGBT organisations Telstra has supported outside of Mardi Gras and Midsumma, including World Aids Day, Wear It Purple Day, Australian Marriage Equality, No to Homophobia, Transgender Victoria and the Bingham Cup, a gay rugby league competition. Telstra also ranked 5th in the Top 10 Employers list for LGBTI inclusion in the 2011 Australian Workplace Equality Index.

    Some people aren't fans of the phone booths, labelling them a "gay stereotype".

    Embarrassing. Telstra paints rainbows on phone booths that play Disco Inferno for Mardi Gras. #gaystereotype

    But others are very happy to see them.

    Airbnb are also newcomers to Mardi Gras, having previously supported San Francisco Pride. Their Big Gay Stay attraction, where visitors can stay in the Airbnb float the night before the parade, has received attention in local LGBT media.

    The Big Gay Stay. Win a night's stay in the Airbnb float. #HostWithPride @sydneymardigras

    A spokesperson for Airbnb told BuzzFeed News that pairing with Mardi Gras was something of a natural fit for the company. "LGBT people around the world have long been a part of Airbnb, hosting and travelling with pride, so we're thrilled to support a community that has always embraced us," he said.

    Airbnb receives a large amount of business from the Mardi Gras and said they are "working to become the most trusted, open, diverse community in the world".

    The spokesperson said Airbnb supports Alterconf, Code2040 and Lesbians Who Tech, groups focused on diversity in technology. He added that Airbnb supports other LGBT-specific charities in areas like housing advocacy, AIDS/HIV and homeless LGBT youth, but did not name any specific organisations.

    Airbnb does not have a formalised network for LGBT employees, but the spokesperson told BuzzFeed News they run a number of programs focused on increasing education for employees on issues like "unconscious biases". "Our new diversity and inclusion courses for all Airbnb employees also ensures that diversity is prioritised across all areas of our organisation," he said.

    Uber have paired with to provide three colourful 'Mardi-Cars' which will offer free rides throughout the Mardi Gras festival.

    Att mardigras gays; use this for a free uber ride throughout mardigras

    Uber did not respond to a request for comment. However, Glen Knowles, head of marketing at, told Mumbrella "our 'Mardi-Cars' raise awareness of CarsGuide, consumers get a free ride, and importantly we have the opportunity to give back to the community.

    If you do jump in a Mardi Car, some money will go back to the LGBT community, with donating $10 to The Aurora Group for every ride taken.

    Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras declined to comment for this story.