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Welcome to the Gayby Boom

08/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Johann Hari Author of 'Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs'

Welcome to the Gayby Boom, baby. Throughout the Noughties, there has been a surge of gay and lesbian couples deciding to settle down in the suburbs and have kids. En masse, gay people are slowly trading the Shadow Lounge for a baby-vomit-and-puke-filled lounge of their own.

This quiet trend has finally poked its way to public attention with the sight of Bruno - the crazed Austrian fashionista played by Sasha Baron Cohen - sitting with a little African baby on his lap, bragging that ever since Madonna went to Malawi, it's the essential fashion accessory, dah-ling.

Of course, there have always been gay parents, but in the past, they were trapped in the loveless marriages of the closet. Now they are out in the open, and increasing. Many of my gay friends are going the same way as my straight friends as we all sag into our thirties. Gay celebs are just part of this trend: John Barrowman is planning to adopt, for one. I was recently sounded out by a lesbian couple I know and love as a possible gay daddy, and I was broodily tempted.

This is all part of a slow shift that is transforming gay culture. During the twentieth century, our battle was to find a place of our own where we could be safely different, and recover some shreds of self-esteem. After millennia of being told our difference was a sickness, we needed a moment to celebrate that difference.

But after that was achieved, our goal changed. We started to realise - once we had the space - that we are actually very similar to our straight siblings. We have the same desire for stability and home-building as everyone else. Our tune changed from "I Am What I Am" to "I Am What You Are." We wanted enough basic equality to have everything straight people have. It started with demands for marriage - and the logical next step is children. We want the chance to show we are as dull and suburban as everybody else.

It used to be that whenever you came out, your mother would give you a hug, say she loved you, and offer a sad aside to her friends that she would never have grandchildren. That's not the case any more. When I was a kid realising I was gay in the 1980s, it never occurred to me that I would grow up to create a family of my own; it was a bleak and alienating thought. But in the 1990s, when I saw so many gay people doing just that, I felt like I had the option to be part of the great human slipstream of procreation.

The children of gay couples are desperately and passionately wanted. They are, by definition, planned, with parents who have to go to a great deal of hassle and heart-searching before they are created. Compare that the number of kids idly conceived in a five-minute shag at a bus stop.

But obviously, every parent wants the best for their child - and many gay parents were inhibited by the idea that their child would be somehow disadvantaged. Would my son be picked on? Would my daughter be confused by having gay parents? It would not be worth repairing our self-esteem at the expense of damaging our children's.

Now the evidence is in. There have been over a hundred scientific studies of the grown-up children of gay parents - and they overwhelmingly find the same thing. Professor Ellen C. Perrin, MD of Tufts University School of Medicine explains: "The vast consensus of all the studies shows that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way."

Some 90 percent of them grow up to be straight - just like in every family. They are no more or less like to be abused, depressed, or confused. And they love their parents, like we all do. "What is striking is that there are very consistent findings in these studies," Perrin says.

Under the sheer concrete weight of this scientific evidence, anybody who continues to oppose gay parents is letting their prejudice cloud their judgment. When the Vatican calls gay parents "gravely immoral", they condemn only themselves.

There is a new gay anthem in town (with apologies to the Shirelles): Gayby, It's You.

Johann Hari writes for the Independent newspaper. To read more of his articles, click here.

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