When it comes to the marriage equality debate in Australia, often you'll hear the same question come up time and time again. "But what if -- gasp -- they have kids?"
To that end, 'Gayby Baby' director Maya Newell has a pretty simple answer. They already have. "Gaybies", or the children of same-sex parents, are already here. They are not a hypothetical.
This was one of the many issues Newell -- herself raised by two mothers -- set out to explore in her 2015 documentary feature 'Gayby Baby'. What sets the film apart from similar ventures is Newell's approach -- she did the unthinkable and chose to bypass politicians and media in favour of spending time with the very people at the core of the debate -- same-sex parents and their children.
The project made national headlines last year when NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli enforced a state-wide ban on the PG-rated movie screening at schools during class hours.
With that furore behind her, Newell, in association with Head On Photo Festival, is once again bringing gaybies into the public eye with a photo series entitled 'Gaybies: We Are Not a Hypothetical.'
Made up of nine portraits of children with LGBT parents, the series is part of this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival and is being exhibited in prime position outside Sydney Town Hall.
"It's a position I couldn't have dreamed of," Newell told The Huffington Post Australia. "The shipping container sits in the middle of the CBD and it just means -- this is the value of public art in general, I guess -- that people who didn't see 'Gayby Baby' at the cinema, or are unsure of what Mardi Gras is, or are not connected to the marriage equality debate, can come face to face with children of same-sex marriage and look into their eyes.
"In many ways it's a gayby visibility project. I think so much of the debate around [marriage equality] is founded on the basis we don't exist yet, that if they let our parents marry, maybe they will start to have kids.
"But that's just not true. Kids in same-sex families have existed for generations. We are already here and we are asking you to please, please, legitimise our families."
To 31-year-old Maeve Marsden, who has been involved with 'Gayby Baby' from the research stage, the decision to take part in the photo series was a no-brainer.
"To me it’s incredibly important. It's really important to have visibility in that sense," Marsden told HuffPost Australia.
"It’s about the children speaking for themselves. Not a parent advocating on their behalf -- which is great, and I have relied on that in the past -- but the opportunity to speak with no agenda, either for or against them.
"I’ve seen other projects that are really doing their best but still aren’t the voice of the kids. I think this approach is more nuanced and complicated, and really interesting... To see what a generation brought up without homophobia and often without sexism looks like."
Because, as Marsden points out, many gaybies are now adults and have the power -- and distance -- to voice their own opinions on their upbringing.
"Part of [the attention around gaybies] is only now are we getting some that are old enough," Marsden said. "My brother is 35. Maya is in her late twenties, I’m in my early thirties. We are of an age to reflect. We are well out of orbit from our parents by now.
"I think [people against marriage equality] don’t want to hear from the kids because they don’t want to hear we're quite happy.
"So many of the questions I get asked are along the lines of 'don’t you wish you had a dad?' Well my response to that is, 'don’t you wish you had two mums? You missed out!'
"It's never framed as a positive. People are always looking for the deficit, which is tiring."
'Gaybies: We Are Not a Hypothetical' will run from the 18th February to the 8th March in front of Sydney Town Hall.
Keen to watch the film? Maya Newell's 'Gayby Baby' will have its premiere broadcast on SBS 1 at 8.30pm, Sunday, 28th February. Check out the trailer below.Suggest a correction