Growing Up Gayby

Growing Up GaybyOften in the debate around same sex marriage is the argument that if gay people are allowed to marry, they’ll start raising children.

Religious arguments often follow the logic that marriage is primarily about creating families, and raising children. But while gay couples are not currently allowed to get married, we’ve been raising children for years, and each year there are more and more gay families.

Filmmaker Maya Newell knows first hand what it’s like to be a child with gay parents, she was raised by her two Mums. In her new documentary ‘Growing Up Gayby’ Newell sets off to meet other ‘gaybies’ both young and old to find out what there experience of growing up in a gay family.

Newell also spends some time with two of the nation’s biggest opponents of marriage equality, politician Fred Nile and columnist Janet Albrechtsen.

What do you hope people take away from your film?

I hope that people will connect with the kids and young adults in the film. I think parenting is incredibly complex, one of the hardest things any couple or person will ever do in their lifetime. I hope people come away with an understanding of the complexities of families, not gay families or straight families, but any parent trying to raise a child, and see value in that quest.

I also hope people who may have been too quick to judge gay families will see some of themselves in the families and the kids included.

You sat down with some of the biggest critics of gay families, what was that like?

I’ve grown up having a lot of anger to someone like Fred Nile, I feel he’s fueled a lot of hatred towards our families. I never thought I’d be sipping a cup of tea and interviewing Fred Nile about the value of same sex parenting.

I found it to be a really interesting experience. I sat and listened to Fred Nile, I head about his parents went through a lot of hardship, his parents were both foster kids, it was nice to hear, perhaps I now understand more why Fred is someone who feels so strongly about the nuclear family unit and why that’s such an important ideal for him.

I think when you sit down with someone you hate, and this goes across all topics, you learn something you didn’t know about them.

A report released earlier this year actually highlighted that children of gay parents actually grow up with greater resilience, has that been your experience?

My experience of being raised by two Mums has been very positive. I grew up in an area city where having gay parents probably gave me cultural status that a reason to be teased. If you read any of the stats they say that kids in gay families are doing as well if not better than kids in other families.

I think for a long time there’s been a lot of pressure on gay families to prove that we’re normal and show that we’re the same, but one of the things I’d like this documentary to be able to say that we are different, we’re not the same, but that’s OK.

I think kids in gay families are probably much more open to difference and acceptance, they’ve grown up in a different family. They have a much bigger vocabulary about sexuality and we know a lot more about the birds and the bees through our own complex conceptions.

I find it confusing that the same sex marriage debate is often tangled up with the gay parenting debate.

Virtually ever critic of same sex marriage their arguments hinge on the idea of marriage being about raising children, and the belief that to be a well adjust human being you must have both a mother and a father. This is why I wanted to make the film. If that’s people’s main argument then we should be talking to all the kids who have been raised by same sex families for generations and generations already. It just seems like a huge gap in information.

‘Growing Up Gayby’ screens on ABC2 on Wednesday 20 November at 9:30pm

Maya and her team first raised funds to create the film via a crowd sourcing Pozible campaign that saw 1244 people contribute to films budget. The team have just received money from Screen Australia to expand the documentary into a feature film.

‘Growing Up Gayby’ is the first documentary in ABC2’s series ‘Opening Shot’ which will continue over the next six weeks. Upcoming episodes cover the topics of vaginal cosmetic surgery, suicide, sexual abuse and terminal illness.




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