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Still family life

Gay Star News talks to the photographer of a series of intimate portraits of families with same-sex parents currently showing in Sydney
Photograph from the Just Families exhibition by Ginette Snow

Touching portraits of same-sex parent families are currently being exhibited at Sydney’s Index gallery.

Photographer Ginette Snow talks to Gay Star News about her own ‘gayby’ grandchildren who inspired her to capture these intimate family portraits.

What inspired you to do this project?

I have a gay son Tom who with his partner Brooke Horne decided to have children a bit over two years ago. In April last year their twins were born – Angus and Sybilla.

The very day that they were born while I was waiting in the foyer of the hospital in San Diego US, at 5.30am in the morning, I met another gay couple from Australia who were also having twins, their second and third children.

Later that day in the hospital nursery the four gay dads were doing all the things that any other new parent would do with their new baby. They were cuddling and admiring the little miracles before them. It was a wonderful sight.

I offered to photograph the other couples’ babies and then I did again when back in Australia. I thought it would be a good project to do – to find and photograph a number of families with same sex parents.

I want people to look at these photos and see inside the lives of these families and focus on the similarities with straight couples rather than noticing the one difference.

I am really doing this project for my two ‘gayby’ grandchildren. I have 12 grandchildren, but I don’t want the twins treated any differently at school because their parents are same sex.

One of the ways to help this is by making gay and lesbian couples equal citizens to other couples throughout the nation. Give them equal rights whether they want or don’t want to get married.

Another way is for people uncomfortable with these families to be exposed to the similarities and see them as not so different from their own families. I think that in viewing my photos and walking inside the homes of the same sex families, other people can see the love, care and normalness within these families.

How many families did you photograph?

I have photographed 23 families. In the exhibition there are photographs of 17 of these families – about half gay & half lesbian.

How did I get in touch with them?

They are mainly friends of my children or friends of theirs. I did have some difficulty finding them. This project is ongoing. I’m hoping to do similar exhibitions in Melbourne and Brisbane sometime and also do a book. Anyone reading this who is or knows a family with gay or lesbian parents please contact me ([email protected]).

What other photo projects have you done?

I have been working as a commercial photographer in Canberra for 13 years. My biggest project was a photographic history on Canberra Airport which I made into a book. I am doing an ongoing photographic documentation of the development at Canberra Airport.

In the social documentary line, I did a series on street documentary photographs of people at Kings Cross. Also one on grey hounds and their owners, but this is the biggest.

Do you think gay marriage will come to Australia this year? What is standing in its way?

I can’t predict that. It certainly looks as if it is moving that way. So eventually it will happen here.

I think a private conscience vote in parliament would be the best thing. The Liberals haven’t said they would allow that yet. Even though Gillard says she would vote against it, at least the Labor Party are allowing a conscience vote. It was good to hear Obama speaking out in support,

Do you think children of same-sex couples suffer more than children of straight couples?

I understand that there is no evidence supporting the doctors’ statement that children of same sex parents are worse off. I can only comment of what I have seen. These families that I have photographed are really very loving families. These couples really want a family and they are stable families. Stability and love go a long way in turning out very balanced happy children.

Ginette Snow’s exhibition Just Families is showing at Index Space, 60 Hutchinson Street, Sydney, until Saturday 9 June.

And Snow is presenting her work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia this Friday, 1 June as part of the Head On Showcase.

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