Those outraged by the film ‘Gayby Baby’ should watch it


Today the Daily Telegraph  launched a full on assault on a Sydney school that had proposed screening of new Australian documentary ‘Gayby Baby’.

Dedicating its front page to condemn the school’s principal and publishing a cartoon of a child being doused in rainbows, while inside columnist Piers Akerman labels LGBTIQ Australians and their families as ‘not normal’.

Being gay is legal.

Having children is legal.

Gay people having children is legal.

If you read the daily telegraph and Akerman’s column, you’d think a High School principal had just proposed showing a documentary on a highly illicit and controversial activity.

The screening of the film at the school was linked to its Director Maya Newell being a graduate of the institution, and the successful ‘Wear it Purple’ campaign that has been running for several years.

The film may not have been an approved part of the school curriculum but when did showing diversity in our community – and the achievement of a graduate of the school become hugely offensive?

Akerman says describing same sex families as ‘the norm’ is a fantasy.  Citing the latest census he highlights that there are only 33,000 declared same sex couples in Australia. As if spotting one is akin to finding a four leaf clover or the golden ticket in a Wonka bar.

Newell’s documentary (and I have watched it) is not a piece of political propaganda but a very effective and real response to right wing religious based political sloganeering

As the Australian Marriage Forum implore people to “think of the children” and the Australian Christian Lobby argue that “every child deserves both a mother and a father” and the Marriage Alliance asks “what is the impact of children actually growing up in a gay or lesbian household?”

It’s not gay activists who have a never ending fascination with the families of LGBTI people.

As Senator Penny Wong recently highlighted in her Press Council debate against the Liberal’s Cory Bernardi;

“We don’t shout you down, we don’t denigrate your relationships, we don’t suggest your children are somehow comprised, so who are the people hurling insults in this debate?”

Akerman doesn’t direct his declaration that coming from a family with gay parents is ‘not the norm’ to his readers but specifically to 12 year old Ebony who appears in the documentary (pictured).

What Newell’s documentary does show is children and their parents doing the things that children and parents do. It turns out being a fly on the wall inside a gay household is much the same as any other household.

The film is a documentary, and while no documentary can ever be free of some level of bias, Newell actually addresses many of the concerns raised by those in our community who oppose same-sex attracted people being parents.

In the film kids like sport, put lost teeth under their pillows for the tooth fairy, argue about homework and go to music lessons.

There’s nothing to see here, move along.

Newell’s documentary reminds me of a story we did here at OUTinPerth a few years ago when photographer Claire Alexander and writer Nadine Walker spent a day with Jasper and his two mums.

Like our story, Newell’s film, gives the opponents of marriage equality and those people who oppose gay people having children, adopting children, fostering children and raising their own children – a look into their lives to show they actually have nothing to worry about.

What makes ‘Gayby Baby’ captivating viewing is the resilience of these kids in the face of adults’ prejudices.

Akerman is not the first opponent of marriage equality to drag out the mathematical argument that gay families are ‘not the norm’. Western Australian politician Peter Abetz also declared that homosexuality was not ‘the norm’ when he voiced his opposition to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.

Difference is something that should be celebrated, not something that should raise our concern – but what this documentary shows in that there is little difference between the families of gay couples and any other Australian family.

Maybe Ebony has the best approach, as she says in the film, “If they have a problem with it, they’re not worth it.”

Graeme Watson

Cinema Paradiso will be screening ‘Gayby Baby’ on Sunday August 30th at 6:30pm.

Graeme Watson will host a Q&A session with director Maya Newell and producer Charlotte Mars after the screening. 

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