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Once In A Lullaby

‘Once in a Lullaby' is Mia Mala McDonald’s long-awaited book of photographic portraits and interwoven stories of Australian LGBTQIA+ families. The contributions shared by participants are reflections on the politics of family, the complex processes of having children, loss, love, and what it is to be human. The book is as much about what it means to be an Australian as it is about sexuality. There is no sensationalism here.

The project was born of a frustration felt by Mia during the 2017 Australian marriage plebiscite. She was deeply saddened to witness the negative conversations around rainbow families and their children.  This project speaks directly to Mia’s identification with these families and to the overwhelming absence of such images in the mainstream Australian media.

Building upon the struggles, dedication and hard work of previous generations, this generation of LGBTQIA+ families have seen and been a part of rapid changes to federal laws impacting their rights to have children. They are the first families to be directly affected by changes to federal laws that have allowed access to IVF procedures, changes to passports and birth certificates, changes in adoption laws, support for fostering and the legal right to be married.

Rainbow families are a part of a quiet but resonant revolution in our understanding of what family might and does mean. Their stories need to be acknowledged and seen and Mia’s ability to photograph people with intimacy, warmth and lightness does that in a quiet, compelling and delightful way, giving us a series of relaxed and honest portraits.

The book which has been beautifully designed by Jack Loel, contains an especially moving essay from Erik Jensen.

You can find the book in many good bookshops, alternatively head to Mia’s site



We tried to access IVF treatment so we were ready to begin that process, but for us we were lucky when we tried home insemination. The IVF process was very unclear for a co-parenting situation as the law does not currently recognise more than two parents. The only way we could access this treatment was if we lied about our situation -Kelly and I either had to present as a heterosexual couple, leaving Dave out of the process, or Luke needed to present as a known doner - rather than a parent alongside Dave and Kelly as we intended. We plan to share Edie’s conception story openly with her. She knows that she has two Dads and a Mum, and that although her family may exist across two homes in the future, she will always have one family that loves her unconditionally.

Facebook recently brought up a memory of myself and friends at the Support Same Sex Marriage rally in Melbourne. Behind us a pink fluffy sign happily exclaims ‘Love is Love’. I didn’t know at the time how deeply significant the plebiscite would become for me, though of course I marched in support of many dear friends’ right to equality. The photos are something I will proudly share with our daughter some day. She’s in the photos that followed, albeit in utero, at her dads’ wedding. The Yes vote has done so much to legitimise and normalise same sex relationships in the mainstream and our daughter will benefit from that.

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