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.’
— Fred Nile (@frednile) March 7, 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.
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.