An inspiring grandmother has gone inside the homes of a number of same-sex families to document their everyday lives for a revealing exhibition as part of the Head On Photo Festival, writes Garrett Bithell.
According to Ginette Snow, she has “become a gay activist without realising it”.
The grandmother and photographer entered the family home of 17 same-sex couples and their children, documenting their everyday lives. A selection of Snow’s intimate images is the subject of an exhibition titled Just Families, part of the annual Head On Photo Festival.
“My 35-year-old son Tom is gay,” Snow tells SX. “I travelled to the United States with Tom and his partner Brooke for the birth of their twins, through surrogacy. At the hospital I met another Australian gay couple from Queensland, who had also just had twins, and offered to photograph their babies.
“I thought it would be nice to take more photos of these families, so the project grew from there.”
All Snow’s photographs were taken in the families’ homes and are thereby imbued with an affecting naturalism. “I hope my photographs portray the love, care, patience, friendship, fun, chaos, humour, reliability, teaching, laughter, listening and problem-solving,” she says. “Because that’s what I saw meeting all these families.
“I want people to think to themselves that they just look like regular families ... that the children in these families have the same upbringing and home life as children with heterosexual parents.”
For Snow, a source of deep sadness is the way same-sex families feel the need to justify who they are. Marriage equality is therefore essential," she says. “Some of the families I met don’t want to get married but they should be allowed to if they want. Gays and lesbians should not be treated as second-grade citizens.”
The Just Families project has been particularly contentious for people of Snow’s generation. “Some people my age are uncomfortable about it,” she says. “Some are homophobic. I want to set an example as a regular grandmother supporting gay couples whether they have families or not. I want people to know that I treat all my children, and all people, the same whether they are gay or not.”
[Pictured above] Andrew and David with Robert and Margaret, both 15 months old.
Just Families, Index Space (60 Hutchinson Street, St Peters) from May 24 – June 9. More information at www.indexspace.com.au.
Above: Amy and Rachel with eight-year-old Evie and 10-year-old Fergus.
Above: Katrina and Caren with 13-month-old Soli and three-year-old Jem.
Above: Wally and Simon with their six-year-old son Corey.