8 September 2015, 23:31
Anyone who raises children, has been around children or ever remembers being a child will be able to relate to the stories depicted in Gayby Baby. The documentary that is so politically contentious that the NSW Education Minister banned its screening during school hours is not really so controversial at all — when you actually watch it.
Gayby Baby follows four children over the course of several years as they navigate the hiccups of home-life, school-work and figuring out their place in the world. Yes, their parents are in same-sex relationships, but Director Maya Newell was adamant that she wasn’t trying to make a 85-minute commercial for gay and lesbian parents.
We’re shown glimpses into raw family life — children rebelling, parents yelling, an emergency admission to hospital, a car breakdown on the way to a crucial appointment, a family deciding to lie about their relationship and a boy quizzing the minister about God’s view on same-sex couples. There are tears and laughter — lots of laughter from the audience. It’s an unexpected comedy where the children are the comedians with all their best lines polished and edited for posterity.
At the screening I attended, the crowd was likely already comfortable with the idea of alternative families, but after seeing the film, I can’t imagine a hostile audience. The starring children quickly charm and endear themselves despite being, well, kids.
Parenting is hard, as Director Maya Newell reminded us during the Q&A afterwards, and that doesn’t have anything to do with a parent’s sexuality. “Same-sex parents shouldn’t have to be seen as perfect to be recognised as equal — equally flawed.”
Because of the feedback I received around the word “gayby”, I asked Maya what she thought about the term and why she decided to use it. Maya explained that “gayby” was coined by children of same-sex couples, and although it wasn’t a word she often used in identifying herself, she obviously thought it had value in certain circumstances and was a easy, “cutesy” nickname.
I remember I first heard about the Gayby Baby documentary during initial talks with my friends in Iceland as we discussed our own gayby production. Their son was born in November last year, and we remain excellent friends with almost daily contact between our two families.
A film like Gayby Baby can only raise awareness, promote tolerance and build the the world into a better place. Check the Gayby Project website to find a future screening near you, or bring together at least fifty people and organise your own screening. Go, go, go!