lifestyle

EXCLUSIVE: The trailer for the first feature documentary about same-sex families.

Film-makers Maya Newell and Charlotte Mars talk about their new documentary Gayby Baby — the first feature documentary about same-sex families in Australia — and share an exclusive first look at the trailer.

MAYA: On the eve of the Mardi Gras Parade last week, the Australian Marriage Forum – headed by David van Gend – launched a television-ad campaign entitled: THINK OF THE CHILD.

As a child of two lesbian mums, I thought ‘phew’ – finally someone is thinking of us kids! But while the ad sought to present ‘what is best for the child’, it once again recast old intolerances and repeated prejudices without recourse to any evidence. If you were really ‘thinking of the child’, it might be useful to actually meet and listen to the views of thousands of kids already in existence.

David van Gend was not thinking of the children.

Not sure which ad we’re talking about? Shame on you, Channels 7 and 9. This ad should never have aired last night.

To make matters worse, Facebook’s masterful algorithm thought that I would be interested in ‘liking’ an ad from old mate Fred Nile that read: ‘Parenting, not promiscuity is worth celebrating #MardiGras 2015.’

As the child of two lesbian Mums, I could have stomped down to David and Fred’s offices (or the social media equivalent) and pointed out that many types of families don’t have a mother or father, and that many children of same-sex parents have BOTH a mother and father via co-parenting arrangements and donor dads.

I could’ve educated them concerning the fact that it’s not uncommon for Gaybies to have two sets of mums and dads. But in the wake of that initial rise to combat, I realised that kids like me have been reacting to provocative campaigns like this our whole lives. We get it, okay? Our families are damaging us, my parents are disgusting and there must be something wrong with us.

When faced with these kinds of hateful ideas, instinct throws you onto the defensive.  You want to say: my family is wonderful, my parents are amazing, my life is PERFECT. But I am wary of being that opposing voice in a debate where there are only two sides. A game where differing worldviews are set firmer with each provocative prod from the enemy. It is this climate of opposition all around the globe that effectively shuts down useful conversation and drives people to extremist views. I don’t want to be a part of that.

Maya with her real-life mums.

What I want is to be able to ask questions about gay families, about my family, without having to know all the answers. I want to tell stories about families like mine where the characters don’t have to emulate the Brady Bunch and happy endings are not the only viable option. Children in LGBTI families are constantly glossing over the challenges in their upbringing to gain acceptance into the mainstream. Our families currently lack the ‘luxury’ to be able to show dis-function, unhappiness or uncertainty like straight families. Enforcing the conventional view of what it means to be a family, isn’t helping. At the end of the day, any issues and complexities we face in our families are not because of our parents’ sexuality – they are because we’re human. Same-sex families are not perfect, but they are no less perfect than any other kind of family.

ADVERTISEMENT
Maya Newell and Charlotte Mars.

CHARLOTTE: I saw an article last week that nearly made me choke on my coffee. After the ‘Think Of The Child’ campaign fiasco I really didn’t imagine anyone could offend my beliefs on this issue more. Then I read the delightful interview from Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who are themselves openly gay, where they referred to children of same-sex parents as ‘chemical children’.

Dolce and Gabbana claim to be advocates for the ‘classical family’ unit – but as someone from one of these classical families I can’t help but wonder… well, why?  What is it that these families provide that alternative families don’t?

More on this: Sir Elton John vows to boycott Dolce & Gabbana after the designers call IVF children “synthetic.”

When I have asked this question of someone with views similar to Dolce and Gabbana’s (and I have asked it a lot) they always respond with a vague ‘oh, well, it’s just that men and women give something unique’ kind of response, without actually articulating what that ‘something’ is. Maybe because there is no ‘something’. Maybe because there’s actually no definable reason why two women, or two men, can’t raise happy healthy children. These days when I look around I don’t see many ‘classical families’ anyway. Families break down, kids split their weeks between parents, and the world rolls on just fine.

But you know… the language used by Dolce and Gabbana has its positives. Much as I tire of listing off all the reasons I dislike it, it does give me renewed confidence in the work I have committed myself to over the last four years.

Some of the children who feature in Gayby Baby.

Maya and I have just finished making Gayby Baby, the first feature documentary about same-sex families told from the perspective of the kids. We hope it is a tipping point in the conversation around families such as Maya’s. While all kids need narratives that reflect their lives and the diversity of their experiences, it is also clear there are a lot of adults who need to hear their stories too.

Gayby Baby is not an ad for queer families, nor is it a reaction to the narrow-mindedness of the sort of ads the Australian Marriage Forum would feed the Australian public, but a film where loving families struggle with competing needs and values, where parents overreact and sometimes let kids down. Our hope is that audiences can see themselves in the film and realise that there is more that connects us than that which separates us.

Keep reading… “10 stupid things we all need to stop saying to same-sex parents.”

In a few weeks Gayby Baby will have its World Premiere at Hot Docs Film Festival in Canada. It’s incredible to have been selected, but also a great testament to this film’s value in the world right now. So in a strange way, thank you Dolce, Gabbana and David van Gend, for reminding us why we made this film.

Maybe we shouldn’t be interrogating who should be allowed to parent, but instead asking how all of us – straight, gay or otherwise – can better provide stable, loving and committed relationships in which to raise children.

Watch the trailer here.

Find out more:

www.thegaybyproject.com

00:00 / ???