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Celebrating Gaybies!

06 Oct 2016

Celebrating Gaybies! Image

A new public photo exhibit on a shipping container, which displays images and messages of children, teens and young adults living with LGBTI families, has arrived at Queensbridge Square.

As part of the 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival, GAYBIES aims to increase the visibility of children of LGBTI parents in Australia and show how beautiful and diverse modern Australian families are.

The national exhibition is the offspring of the 2015 award-winning documentary Gayby Baby by Sydney-based filmmakers Maya Newell and Charlotte Mars, which follows the lives of four children, whose parents are gay or lesbian.

The exhibition introduces 15 children, teens and adults from LGBTI families and asks them one question: from one gayby to another, what is your advice for other kids? The answers, written on the container, will inspire.

Appearing at the launch on September 28, Maya Newell said having the container in such a public spot in Southbank had been great for engaging people from all walks of life.

“I think what’s really wonderful about this spot is that people can walk past and be captured by it and they can be drawn into a world that they’re not usually a part of,” she said.

“It’s been really wonderful this morning to see people walk up and pause and take in what the kids have got to say on the container.”

Maya said that with a possible nation-wide plebiscite looming over same-sex marriage, there was concern that “gayby” children and their families could be targeted to make a political point.

“This project comes from me wanting a more accepting world for families like mine and I think that when you’ve got a platform with a film there’s just so much more where you can go,” she said.

“We don’t need a costly, harmful plebiscite because already we can see that it’s LGBTI youth and children growing up in same-sex families who are the most vulnerable and it’s just not fair.”

As LGBTI families gathered to have their photo taken in front of the container by renowned photographer Lucy Morton, “cheers!” was substituted with “no plebiscite!”

Victorian gender and sexuality commissioner Rowena Allen, who is a lesbian parent herself, said the conversations around the Turnbull Government’s potential plebiscite were very difficult for all LGBTI families.

“I often say that many of the parents that I talk to just want to put their kids on an island for 12 months until it all goes away. As parents, you want to protect your kids from this sort of stuff and it’s really difficult at the moment because everywhere you look people are talking about it,” she said.

“Everybody is having a conversation about whether our families are just as valid as everybody else’s families and that’s hard for the parents but it’s particularly hard on our kids.”

Joined at the launch by the likes of Aussie Rules footballer, former Greens candidate and LGBTI advocate Jason Ball, Ms Allen said the exhibition had been important for helping boost the voice of rainbow families.

“It’s fantastic and just watching people stop and read the signs and see the pictures and gaining more of an understanding about our families is fantastic and it’s a beautiful exhibition,” she said.

“As the commissioner it’s fantastic but as a rainbow mum it’s really important that our families are recognised. It’s really hard for rainbow families and our kids.”

The exhibition will run at Queensbridge Square until October 6.

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