Wednesday and Azra, 4, bring attention to LGBT RIGHTS. Image: Jez Smith with Kelvin Harris, Georgia Waterford, and Casey Legler.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA- LGBT rights are the center of a major photography exhibition in Sydney, Australia. Titled Gaybies: We are not a hypothetical, the exhibition features black and white images by photographer Jaz Smith and artist Casey Legal.
The exhibition brings to the fore one of the most contentious issues of our time: LGBT rights. Should LGBTs be allowed to adopt? This is one issue that has brought out the worst in people. Some politicians and religious leaders have not only compared homosexuality to bestiality, they have vehemently contended that LGBTs have no rights to adopt children. Some religious leaders have even gone to the extreme, calling for the killing of homosexuals. One example is Pastor Kevin Swanson of Colorado, who called for the killing of homosexuals in an event that also featured top Republican presidential candidates, including Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz.
In spite of all the condemnation, and castigation of LGBTs, the support for LGBT rights has continued to gain momentum across the globe, including Australia. In Australia, LGBTs are becoming more integrated into the Australian society. Like in the United States, LGBTs are gaining more rights in Australia.
A fundamental aspect of LGBT rights is the ability to adopt children. This is at the core of Gaybies. The show attempts to counter the constant denigration of children leaving up with LGBT parents. “Many children with LGBTIQ parents face the challenge of growing up hearing their families being regularly denigrated by media and politicians,” Head On Photo Festival and Gayby Baby organizers of the exhibition note.
The main objective of this public art exhibition by Jez Smith with Casey Legler, according to the organizers, “is to increase the visibility of children, teens and young adults currently living with LGBTIQ parents in Australia and show how beautiful and diverse modern Australian families really are. We want to say to Gaybies everywhere: you are beautiful, you are awesome and you are loved.”
Lining the streets of Sydney, Australian are huge striking black and white portraits of children with ages ranging from newborn to 32 years old. One common thread in all the images are the joyful smiles on the faces of the children. Evidently, there is great joy in children raised by same-sex, transgender and bisexual partners parents. Highlighting the experiences of the children are personal quotes that allow them to directly communicate with other children as well as advice them.
Beautiful and Charming Sunnai speaks about love. The 16 -year -old writes: “Who wants to be normal. Normal is so boring. Being different is so special; you are brought up with so much love and acceptance.”
The portrait of 4-year-old Azra and Wednesday speaks to what it means to be part of an LGBT family. “We are special because we have two dads.” This feeling is echoed by Jesse who states: “No one can ever discriminate against you if you are proud of yourself. You shouldn’t have to hide.”
Maeve, a 31-year-old beautiful lady expresses her thoughts glowingly: “Know that you are allowed to be human and flawed, that you don’t have to be a poster child for LGBTI families. But also know our community is creating generations of diverse, loving, courageous, big-thinking, wonderful warriors and you can be proud.”
Gaybies on display at the Town Hall Steps on George Street, Sydney highlights the diversity of Australian families, and children growing up with LGBT parents. Coming on the heels of the highly controversial 2015 documentary Gayby Baby by Australian filmmaker Maya Newell, this photography exhibition elevates the discourse about children growing up with LGBT parents. Gayby Baby was banned in Australian schools.
The opening of Gaybies was accompanied by festivities and the raising of a rainbow flag flying above the Sydney’s Town Hall. The exhibition which coincides with the launch of the Sydney’s Mardi Grass festival will culminate in one of the largest gay pride marches in the world on March 5.
In addition to the rainbow flag above the Sydney’s Town Hall, which is flying for the seventh year, 200 rainbow banners will line Oxford Street, where the Mardi Grass parade takes place. A huge flag will also fly in Taylor Square, the heart of the LGBT district of Sydney.
This exhibition and the continued financial support of the Mardi Gras by Sydney presents the City as a welcoming and inclusive community. There is an absolute commitment to equality, social justice, and diversity. While immense progress has been made over the years for the entrenchment of LGBT rights, more still has to be done to universalize marriage equality and address all forms of discrimination.