Director: Maya Newell
Running Time: 85 minutes
GAYBY BABY tells the story of four Australian kids, Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham, all of whom have gay parents. Throughout the documentary, we see the four separate families undergo the joys and hardships of same-sex parenting, each child questioning their own place in society as they face the inevitability of growing up in a prejudice world: Gus is obsessed with professional wrestling, but his mothers attempt to teach him more peaceful and effective ways of using his strength; Ebony’s mothers try to help their daughter, who wants to be a singer, overcome her stage-fright, but also have Ebony’s epileptic brother to care for; Matt questions his and his mothers’ religion when he learns of the Bible’s take on same-sex marriage; Graham struggles learning how to read, but is helped by his fathers.
Meanwhile, the outside world deliberates the subject of marriage equality, and whether or not kids of same-sex families are at risk. From the intellect, eloquence, and maturity that each child in Maya Newell’s documentary shows, there should be no need for such deliberation. What we see in this film is how children can, in many ways, exceed the intelligence of that of an adult in their acceptance and understanding of another’s happiness, and their questioning of disapproving societies, cultures and institutions. In the same way that an ideal world would use SUFFRAGETTE as a text for the need of gender equality, the same can be said of GAYBY BABY in terms of same-sex marriage and parenting.
What director Newell has so beautifully captured is how each family have their own difficulties that actually are very little to do with homosexuality, but are to do with issues that any other type of family have to endure. The subject of the parents’ same-sex marriage is almost seconded to a portrait of the modern family that has little difference to the stereotypical image of the nuclear family; kids questioning religion, pursuing grand ambitions, parents teaching their children how to read and write. They all fight their own battles, celebrate their victories and mourn their losses.
The overall documentary may seem more on the televisual side, and not particularly ground-breaking in the way it tells its story, but the characters are so likeable and the director’s approach is so heart-warming that the significance of GAYBY BABY surpasses those flaws; the conventional storytelling matches the conventional families. What we have here is an important film that disproves the prejudices those have of same-sex parenting, clearly showing that it is loving parents, regardless of gender, who raise happy and healthy children. A delightful, meaningful, profound and politically relevant film that deserves plaudits for encompassing the simple beauties of modern family life.
A theatrical release date of GAYBY BABY is yet to be confirmed.