Five Bells is a celebration of queer life, giving the world a visual portrait of everyday life among queer-identifying people. In so doing, the project presents a series of neither caricatures nor stereotypes but active agents in the universal quest for happiness, intimacy, respect, and a sense of belonging. Presented here are two stories from this vast project connected by The Rainbow Babies & Kids initiative.
Malissa and Natalie
One weekend in November, the RB&K came to my hometown. The first family I focused on was Melissa and Natalie and their children. They radiated joy and warmth. Melissa and Natalie were comfortable and strong in their respective roles. With four children, that’s no easy feat.
The overwhelming sense I got from this family when I photographed them in their home in Canberra, was of great love and respect for each other. It was clear this was a family, first and foremost. Gender became so ridiculously irrelevant.
“We are a family, like many others that value love, honesty, respect and trust”
Bonnie and Zelda
Another family there that day was Bonnie and Zenia beaming with pride for their newborn twins. The couple lives in a traditional weatherboard cottage in a western suburb of Sydney with the twins and their two daughters.
Again, what stands out in my mind is the sense of love, commitment and belonging. The two older girls were inquisitive, full of life and had an inner creative joy and imagination. They are just the same as any other children from a stable secure environment, no more, no less, equal.
“In terms of being a gay family, I don’t know any different. It’s great!”
Five Bells was shown as part of Queertography – a Head On exhibition during Sydney Mardi Gras 2023 for World Pride.
Jenny Papalexandris is a Visual Artist/Photographer and Educator based in Australia.
She explores photography as a subjective response to the world of light and shadow. Her photographs are highly expressive and visually commanding. Thematically rich and diverse, her photography is imbued with a strong sense of poetry, symbolism and metaphor. They are personal records tracing universal themes of loss, identity, the body as metaphor and nature. Her work, at times reveals a brooding, introspective questioning of her subjects to arrive at a sense of mystery and wonder.
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