Being raised by a gay couples is an emerging concept that brings with it unique pressures and rewards. What the likes of Christian-right stalwart Fred Nile and culture warrior Janet Albrechtsen think about such a state of affairs is about to air on a documentary on ABC2 this month. Despite claims by opponents of marriage equality that the reform will lead to gay people having children, the truth is, it’s been happening for generations already and becoming more popular by the day.
Part of the Opening Shot series premiering on November 20, Growing Up Gayby, follows director Maya Newell as she interviews Nile and Albrechtsen, as well as a slew of ‘gaybies’ – children brought up by gay parents – in an attempt to make sense of what ‘family’ is in the 21st century.
Having grown up in Sydney’s inner-west the proud daughter of a lesbian couple, Newell tells the Star Observer that for older ‘gaybies’ such as herself, getting in contact with other children of gay parents proved to be somewhat cathartic considering there were some commonalities in their experiences growing up, whether they were ‘out’ or not to friends and others about their family situation.
“There are questions that consistently arise and for us older kids there’s a list of about five questions or so that I can almost guaranteed will be asked, such as; Do you miss having a father? Are you gay yourself? Are you bullied and discriminated against?” Newell says.
“We did structure this film around those three questions but within the answers there are things that are unexpected and things that people wouldn’t think to ask about. Fred Nile’s first question to me was, ‘are you gay?’ My mum’s response, which is in the film, was ‘we tried everything we could but we just couldn’t make you gay.’”
Newell, who is currently continuing work on her upcoming feature-length film, Gayby Baby, on the same subject matter, tells the Star Observer this week that she is immensely thankful to the local LGBTI community for getting behind her recent crowd-funding drive that will hopefully help see the longer film completed by late next year.
“Growing Up Gayby, is on the same topic but it’s an incredibly different approach. It’s a much more hardline approach, its obviously shorter, and it’s cut for an audience who may not be accustomed to any gay issues,” she says.
“I hope more people will watch it as there are people like Fred Nile and Janet Albrechtsen, which adds in a whole different audience to our little niche one.”
An initiative between ABC2 and Screen Australia, Opening Shot gives five filmmaking teams, all with a director under 35 years of age, the opportunity to create a prime-time documentary that develops their long form film skills while adding a fresh voice to to the national conversation on a number of important issues.
Other films to air in the series include documentaries on women’s bodies, terminal illness, suicide and child sexual abuse.
INFO: Growing Up Gayby premieres on ABC2 at 9.30pm, Wednesday, November 20.