What makes a family? #openingshot


Gay symbols near Westerkerk in Amsterdam
Image by Wolfgang Sauber from Wikipedia.

There's an interesting film as part of OPENING SHOT (documentaries made by Australia's next generation filmmakers) on the ABC called Growing Up Gayby. It's an interesting take in exploring how growing up in 'gay' families (specifically here ones with two mothers) has affected the children of these families. In many respects, this show proves that children from such relationships are in fact more mature, accepting and stronger than children from more 'traditional' relationships, but to give the show credit, it is extremely fair in showing both sides of the story, though still supporting their own strong message.

My own parents are against gay marriage, since they believe it 'disrupts natural order' or something to that extent. They would probably agree with what's touted by our politicians and religious peoples — a child needs a mother and a father. How does this fit exactly with single parents? Should they all now have a spouse in order to have children? It just seems to ask the same question. There are plenty of heterosexual couples that abandon, abuse and maybe even kill their children every year, and while I have no statistics for similar happenings in gay families, what is to say that these families are in any way inferior to traditional heterosexual families? Who are you to deny children homes with loving parents, no matter what gender they may be?

The phrase 'nurtured by loving parents' is paraded so often, yet what is nurturing in the situations I mentioned? When traditional parenting roles are shifting anyway, why should we stay in antiquated values of demanding that 'fathers' be breadwinners and supporters of the family? This tiptoes on the edges of sexism — why can't we simply support each other and be flexible?

Growing up with such parents, I feel lucky to be so open minded as I am now. I consider myself bi (though I do have a boyfriend), though I know that my parents would never be accepting of such a relationship, despite their 'apparent' open mindedness. Their stereotypical view of 'white males' alone already bodes ill for me for any relationship other than one with a 'Asian male' (well, whoops) who has values 'closer to my own', despite telling me scant months earlier that it didn't matter and they only wanted to meet whoever might be my future boyfriend and check out his character. So much for that.

Anyway, they are certainly free to believe in what they want to, but I don't appreciate that they speak of what they believe in as if forcing me to see it their way as well. Nonetheless, whatever I think, this debate will still go on so long as people like Tony Abbott remain in power. I can only hope with a new generation slowly moving in, we can slowly move to more tolerance, acceptance and understanding.

You can read what Maya Newell, the director of Growing up Gayby, herself says about her upbringing here in an article from almost a year ago. Much more articulate than myself!