penny Sharpe
Alex Greenwich, Penny Sharpe and Justin Koonin

A Sydney newspaper published a front page article with extremely demeaning language about the documentary, going as far as to say that children growing up with same-sex parents were not living a “normal” family lifestyle.

Sharpe began her speech by talking about the launch of the New South Wales Friends of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Community. This is a cross-party group that aims to bring issues that affect LGBTI people and their families to public attention. At the launch, Gayby Baby was screened to more than 100 people. This launch happened on Tuesday 25 August.

She went on to state that the news report created a “political storm” about the documentary and that the article came “from people who have not seen the film. Their words may have delivered a front page but they also delivered ill-informed commentary about this film – commentary that went too far.” Sharpe said that the article “targeted the courageous young people in the families featured in the film and pointed the public finger at them to say that they are not normal and their families are not normal.”

Sharpe, a lesbian, has been with her partner for 22 years and has raised three children of her own along with three foster children with her partner. She believes that “these facts should be unremarkable.” but continued on by saying “today I was reminded why they are not.” She spoke passionately about how the collision of politics and her personal life brought into the spotlight that “in the eyes of some I am not normal and my children are not normal. In the eyes of some, the thousands of gay men, lesbian, transgender and intersex people and our families in our communities are not normal.”

Being told that you and your family are not normal is a very hurtful and negative message to send to anyone. Sharpe’s speech emphasised that now is the time for this type of thinking to stop. She went on to say “I am normal. My kids are normal. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex is normal. It is called being a human being. Aspiring to have a family is normal. Creating LGBTI families is normal.” A very powerful message that every person needs to hear and take to heart.

Sharpe wrapped up her five minute speech by thanking the four children and their families that participated in the documentary and touching on the fact that their stories “are very ordinary stories” but the “dignity, humour and resilience they bring to their families and our community make these people extraordinary.”

She also delivered this message “For those promoting a plebiscite or a referendum I have one message: LGBTI Australians and their families should not have to go begging to the Australian public to be given the tick of approval to exist and be able to be married. LGBTI families deserve nothing less than being treated with respect—and respect means equality before the law delivered as soon as possible.”

Watch the video of her speech below:

Gayby Baby from Penny Sharpe on Vimeo.