by Maya Newell - Australia
Gayby Baby follows the lives of four kids – Gus, Ebony, and Matt Graham – whose parents are gay.
While the four kids are struggling with the typical conflicts of their age, the outside world discusses strongly on equal rights for homosexuals, gay marriage equality, on real or perceived risks for children raised in same-sex families.
At a time when the whole world is wondering about the political issue of same-sex families and gay couples rights, Gayby Baby takes us inside the homes and personal dramas of four kids who are approaching adolescence, under the guidance of gay parents .
In his all-female household, Gus tries to find out what it means to “be a man”; Ebony struggles to find her voice as a singer and a place in which his gay family can be accepted; Matt asks how the how the God his lesbian mums worship can also damn them to hell; and Graham’s desire to read and win the approval of his dads is complicated by a move to Fiji, where homosexuality is frowned upon.
Told from the point of view of children, Gayby Baby is a living portrait, in flux, the same-sex families, a portrait that offers honest picture of what is truly important in modern life.
Over the last five years, debates all around the world about marriage equality and same-sex parenting have risen in volume. Countless public figures and politicians repeat the argument that marriage is about having children and all children need both a mother and father. This fear of motherless or fatherless families and the subsequent army of their damaged, confused offspring seems to be spreading. I hear them whisper: what will happen if we allow gays to marry? What if they have kids? Would that be ok?
Even though gay couples can’t marry (in the majority of countries), they have been having children for a long time already. In fact, the world is in the midst of a “Gayby boom” and those kids are growing up fast, with voices and experiences of their own. I am one of those Gaybies.
A few years ago, I went to the cinema and watched a movie called The Kids are Alright – the first fiction feature to tell the story of a lesbian couple raising children. As I left the cinema and strode down the street, I felt unnerved, unhinged and soon realised I was streaming tears. I had never seen my family reflected on the big screen before. Watching the film, I recognised subtle similarities that occur when two women parent. I felt connected to these teenagers and wondered if this was how people with heterosexual parents felt every time they were immersed in a movie. I felt happy – to finally see a story like mine – but also angry because this was the first one.
Gayby Baby is the first feature documentary told from the perspective of kids in gay and lesbian families, and I hope it is the tipping point in the tide of representations of families like mine. Kids need narratives that reflect their lives and the diversity of their family structures.
We need stories that aren’t just there to prove a point claiming, “We are the same, our families are perfect, our families are just like yours!” In this way, Gayby Baby is not an ad for queer families, but a film where loving families struggle with competing needs and values, where parents overreact and sometimes kids get let down. Same-sex families are not perfect, but they are no less perfect than any other kind of family.
In 2015, I hope we are moving away from defensiveness to a space where we can ask questions without knowing the all the answers, and see that these children are not defined by the sexuality of their parents.
Gayby Baby is a film inspired by a desire to shine a light on the wit, agency and wisdom of four incredible young individuals – Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham – who
are part of the LGBTI community by nurture and birthright. When my mother Donna came out to her mother, my grandmother’s response was that of despair. She was distraught because she so desperately wanted to have grandchildren. Her only daughter being a lesbian seemed like the end of the family line, not to mention a clear indicator of my mother’s lonely barren future. What an exciting era we are living in – for the first time in history, LGBTI people can expect to be parents, to have a family.
The four years I spent making this film, hanging out with these kids and witnessing them grow has been such a joy. I hope that in watching this film audiences will be
inspired to interrogate “what is family” and how and by whom it is defined. Asked what family was, Ebony, one of the kids in the film, once said: “The people who make you who you are today are your family.” These kids get it. We just need the rest of the world to catch on.
Australia, 2015 – 85′
Director: Maya newell
Editing: Rochelle Oshlack
Sound: Andy Wright
Original Music: Max Lyandvert
With: Gus, Ebony, Matt, Graham and their families
Production: Charlotte Mars
Themes: LGBTI, parenting, family, youth
Original Language: English
Original Format: HD
Distribution for Italy: ZaLab