Whatever one thinks of the fracas that erupted between Dolce & Gabbana and Elton John, their very public argument has indeed been the catalyst for spirited online debate regarding same sex parenting and surrogacy.
Dolce & Gabbana are known to be gay and their comments demonstrating an aversion to same sex marriage and assisted reproduction can only be described as peculiar. One way that internalized homophobia is seen to manifest when a gay person, for example, espouses essentially homophobic views due to having lived in a hostile and anti-gay heteronormative world and this seems to be the case with the designers. Italy is religious and very pro traditional family so perhaps this could be one of the reasons for their views.
Nevertheless their comments do fall into the realm of prejudicial on many levels and their views have caused a boiling debate that simmers online and tempers have ignited on both sides.
For whatever reason, some may be reluctant to support surrogacy or assisted reproduction. As I surfed through the various news and social media outlets, debates sizzled on Twitter and in the readers' comments sections beneath news articles regarding the controversy.
What is fascinating is that many anti-gay commentators were throwing up their objections to assisted reproduction but only as a flimsy transparent veil barely concealing what their actual problem was: two gay men raising children.
Many were waving the anti-surrogacy flag of protestation to obfuscate their bigotry towards same sex parents and gay men (in particular) having biological children. Given the fact that a very large proportion of those objecting to assisted reproduction and gay male parenting were clearly from the religious right one would safely assume they are also pro-life so it beggars belief why they would want to deny life to children conceived via assisted reproductive methods.
The anti-gay brigade objects to gay men fathering children in this way yet paradoxically they often use the fact that male homosexuality doesn't produce biological children as a stick to beat us with. According to the bigoted traditionalists, when gay people don't reproduce we are somehow failing in our duty as human beings whereas when we do reproduce we are also failing in our duty and all of a sudden assisted reproduction becomes the latest societal evil that needs to be stomped out.
One of the arguments put forward this week in the media by the anti-gay contingent is that assisted reproduction is in some way 'unnatural' and that a child must have a relationship with its biological mother. I would personally refute that notion because the questionable assumption they put forward is the children of gay parents borne of assisted reproduction shouldn't be born -- or exist -- at all in the absence of a biological mother raising said child. Essentially they are saying that these people should not exist. Period. Rather a cruel position to take, wouldn't you agree? They are saying that the five million people existing today who were conceived through assisted reproduction shouldn't, in fact, exist.
I would also question the tradition of publicly alienating children if they come into existence in the many ways that assisted reproduction provides. If the child is told early on and raised by loving adults there is no reason to deny those children their existence! The negative attitude towards this issue is abusive to both children and adults alike who came to be through assisted reproduction and the D&G comments underscore this problem.
If the stigma of being born outside of a heteronormative nuclear family were removed then we as a society would be evolving away from alienating children who, for whatever reason, do not exist in a traditional family group that actually isn't ideal in any case -- the majority of children now coming from broken homes and existing within various alternative family groups such as blended families and being raised by single parents.
Many opponents to same sex parenting object to children not being born following heterosexual intercourse and the pro-heteronormative-nuclear-family supporters (some of whom are anti-gay) protest loudly that this is the only way children should come into existence -- that sex is for procreation ...
But it isn't.
Sex is for for pleasure.
Simply put: humans have transcended any notion of sex being for procreation only and sex is primarily for pleasure -- pregnancy being proactively prevented by contraception almost every time a straight couple gets it together. The primary objective is to avoid pregnancy most of the time -- hence the multi-billion dollar contraceptive industry and access to abortion.
Sex is for bonding, recreation and pleasure and heterosexuals only have sex in order to conceive a child in the tiniest minority of instances whereby they have sexual intercourse. Sex is for enjoyment and procreation is only one of the reasons a couple may have intercourse and it is the least popular one.
I witnessed many arguments launched in the media this past week claiming there was something immoral about a woman making herself available for surrogacy.
Developing a child inside one's own body for someone else who is unable to conceive is a fantastically generous undertaking and when it comes to women's right to choose the maxim is: her body, her choice and this applies to women who choose to be surrogates, too.
Another objection to gay people parenting children that is trotted out with monotonous frequency is that supposedly it isn't fair on the children to come from non-traditional families because these children may be bullied or feel alienated by their peers. The problem here isn't the children or their gay parented families: it's homophobia. That is what needs to be eradicated: when homophobia is eradicated then the children will not be singled out.
As we evolve away from a heteronormative culture, children who are conceived through assisted reproductive methods and who live in gay parented families can be welcomed into their peer groups where all the children come from all sorts of family groups including married heterosexually parented families, single parented families, divorced families and blended families. There really isn't one norm anymore in any event. There are lots of norms!
Infants and very young children ponder the existential question: "where did I come from" and this continues into adulthood when we consider where our planet and universe originated. Existential curiosity is normal but it doesn't follow that everyone must come into existence in the same way. Sometimes the simplest explanations are the most profound: I shall always remember with great affection when I was six years old my mother's answer when I asked her where I came from:
"There is a seed that grows when there is love and it grew into you"
Would the answer be any different if a small child who was borne of assisted reproduction asked the same question?
There were vehement attacks online suggesting that surrogacy and assisted reproduction were completely wrong both morally and philosophically and to those people who are anti-gay and/or oppose gay parenting and assisted reproductive methods, I would ask this:
Would you have forfeited your chance of life here on earth if the only way to come into existence would have been through assisted reproduction and being parented in a home by two gay caretakers as parents? What about the children in your family or the children you know -- or any adult you love? If the only way they could have come into existence and the only way you could have had the chance to meet them was in the way you so vehemently object to -- would you rather they didn't exist, that they had never been born?