By: K. Pearson Brown
GLAAD hosted a special advance screening of the CNN documentary Gary + Tony Have a Baby at the Paley Museum of TV in Beverly Hills a couple of nights ago. It was a very nice affair with a rooftop reception with new GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios along with celebrity guests including gay mom Meredith Baxter and Wilson Cruz.
The doc, which for two years follows two gay men who use a surrogate to have a baby, had its emotional moments, such as when the couple finds out the surrogate has conceived, using the sperm of one of the men, and an egg donated by another woman. The story also highlighted the hoops that gay men must jump through to have a child, including the expense, which can exceed $160,000, to pay for the legal agreements, egg donor, surrogate, medical expenses and other related costs.
Overall I think the documentary was evenhanded in its presentation of the ups and downs of the process, though as was brought up in the panel discussion following the presentation, Gary and Tony were lucky —other men told how they went through several donors and surrogates and many attempts before a successful pregnancy.
The panel was well represented with articulate gay men who were all fathers. One thing that stood out to me was that all of the men were in their 40s and older, which seems to be the age that most men have achieved the financial ability and relationship stability to begin a family. As I did not have a baby until I was 43, I know there are challenges to being an older parent, but this subject was not brought up in the discussion.
The speaker who impressed me the most was GLAAD’s Jarrett Barrios, who is the father of two teenage boys. He adopted his boys through the foster system, and he was honest and realistic about the occasional negative consequences his sons have endured because of having two dads – such as teasing on the baseball team, which ended in his son quitting the team. But as Barrios and other panelists emphasized, times are changing, and these types of situations happen less frequently today as more gay parents come out. Also, as Barrios stressed, images in the media of gay parents are reaching middle America through media, which is why docs like Gary + Tony are so important.
The show airs on June 24 on CNN. I am eager to see how the rest of America receives it.
K. Pearson Brown is a freelance writer in Los Angeles and has a blog www.outwithmommy.com