It’s an interesting moment in the culture, as gay icons battle each other over the notion of conceiving children in other than nature’s way of sex between men and women.
Italian fashion (and, for 23 years, romantic) partners Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana made worldwide headlines by defending the traditional notion of family as a mother, father and their offspring.
In an interview with Italy’s Panorama magazine, Gabbana answered the question “What is family for Dolce & Gabbana?” (Apologies, the answer below comes from Google Translate, but here’s a link to the Italian original):
Gabbana : Watching the thousands of shots that sent us we understand that the family is not a fad. It is a sense of the supernatural. We decided to do this project when we noticed that people copied our advertising campaigns, putting family posing, fully dressed and then posting pictures on social networks. We looked and said: is simply brilliant. People need to belong. Sweet : We did not invent … family. The icon has made ??the Holy Family, but there is no religion, there is no welfare state that takes: you are born and you have a father and a mother. Or at least it should be so, why do not convince me what I call the children of chemistry, synthetic children. Wombs for rent, seeds selected from a catalog. And then go on to explain to these children who is the mother. But she would agree to be the daughter of chemistry? Procreation must be an act of love, now even psychiatrists are prepared to deal with the effects of these experiments.
Asked if they want to be fathers, there are different answers from Dolce and Gabbana:
G . Yes, I am a son I would do it.
D . I’m gay, I cannot have a child. I believe that we cannot have everything in life, if there is not to say that there must be. It is also good to deprive yourself of something. Life has its natural course, there are things that must not be changed. And one of these is the family.
According to an article in the U.K. Telegraph, Gabbana asked a female friend in 2006 if she would bear a child conceived through artificial insemination (which is obviously not the same thing as IVF, in which fertilization takes place outside the woman’s body):
But he said he did not want his child to have two gay parents, adding: “I am opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents.
“A child needs a mother and a father. I could not imagine my childhood without my mother. I also believe that it is cruel to take a baby away from its mother.”
These comments haven’t set well with a number of people, especially gay singer Elton John, who is raising two sons conceived through IVF. He’s called for a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana items (despite being seen in LA a day after that carrying a D&G shopping bag).
In addition, openly gay “Glee” and “American Horror Story” creator Ryan Murphy (who used a surrogate to produce the two children he’s raising with his partner), spoke out forcefully:
“This is not just a gay issue,” Murphy says. “I know 10 women in my life who used IVF to conceive — and three doing it right now. IVF is a scientific miracle that helps loving families fulfill their dreams. To tell them their choices as women — anyone’s choices on family — are not embraced, well, I don’t think they’ll be traipsing off to a Dolce & Gabbana store to buy clothes anytime soon.”
Unsurprisingly, many others in Hollywood have followed John’s and Murphy’s leads in criticizing Dolce and Gabbana and calling for boycott of their products — and Gabbana has admitted it could impact the bottom line.
But Gabbana is also not backing down, saying (in an article from the U.K.’s Daily Mail):
The Italian fashion designer, 52, admitted that Dolce and Gabbana could lose ‘some Elton John fans’ in the wake of the controversy sparked by Dolce, 56, describing IVF babies as “synthetic.”
Sir Elton John, 67, launched an online #BoycottDolceGabanna campaign after the comments were published in Italian magazine Panorama and condemned the designer for ‘wagging your judgmental little fingers at IVF.’
Gabbana, who said yesterday amidst the outcry that ‘it was never our intention to judge’, has now hit out at Sir Elton and called him a ‘fascist’. He has also started a #BoycottEltonJohn tag and posted a ‘Je Suis D&G’ poster to his Instagram page.
It came as Italian senator Roberto Formigoni described Sir Elton as the ‘Taliban’, likening him to the Islamic fanatics who murdered staff at the political magazine Charlie Hebdo in a savage attack on free speech.
Speaking to the Italian publication Corriere della Sera, Gabbana said:
We have always lived our sexuality privately, we have never shouted it out. They’re just putting words into our mouths, now. They’re saying we are against gay parenting. It’s not true. Domenico only expressed his opinion about the traditional family and about In Vitro Fertilisation. If someone else wants to make different choices, fine, they are free to do it. We demand the same respect.
And regarding John:
I didn’t expect this. I didn’t expect this, coming from someone whom I considered, and I stress “considered”, an intelligent person like Elton John. I mean, you preach understanding, tolerance and then you attack others? Only because someone has a different opinion? Is this a democratic or enlightened way of thinking? This is ignorance, because he ignores the fact that others might have a different opinion and that theirs is as worthy of respect as his.”
“[Hearing from him after this] would be useless! It’s an authoritiarian way of seeing the world: agree with me or , if you don’t, I’ll attack you. I even posted the word “Fascist!” on his Instagram.
Obviously, the Catholic Church doesn’t approve of all scientific means of overcoming infertility, as outlined by the USCCB, in a document called “Begotten Not Made: A Catholic View of Reproductive Technology,” which says:
The many techniques now used to overcome infertility also have profound moral implications, and couples should be aware of these before making decisions about their use. Each technique should be assessed to see if it is truly moral, that is, whether or not it promotes human good and human flourishing. All these technologies touch in some way on innocent human life.
But what Dolce and Gabbana are talking about is not simply overcoming infertility, it’s people whose sexual practices are inherently sterile using these techniques to intentionally create children who will never be given the right to know and/or be raised by both their biological parents, especially not in a loving sacramental marriage.
Where the designers err is in referring to the products of these techniques as “synthetic” — they are not. However it happens, at the moment of conception, all children have equal worth and equal dignity. The Church’s issue is with extraordinary scientific means of conception, the conditions under which they are used, and the long-term implications of that, not only for the children themselves, but for the family and society at large.
But the designers are right in asserting that purposefully tinkering with the human family — the basic unit of civilization — is dangerous and deprives children of the right to their own mother and father. And “purposefully” is the important word. All sorts of things can happen that result in a child not being raised by both its biological parents. That’s just the vicissitudes of life, and we deal with them as best we can, trying to create the best possible situation for the child from the options available.
The serious problem arises when the child is deprived of these rights by a conscious choice of the adults involved, to satisfy their own wants and desires. Adults may have the freedom to make these choices, but the child bears the ultimate burden of the fallout.
On another note, it’s encouraging to see these independent-minded designers remind everyone — especially the purveyors of identity politics — that we are all individuals, and that just because you belong to one group or another, you are entitled to form your own opinions and hold your own beliefs.
The “gay community,” or people who’ve appointed themselves to speak for it, don’t own Dolce or Gabbana and don’t control what they think or say.
As Jesus reminded us, even tax collectors love their own families — the real trick comes when you have to love and respect those with whom you have a strong disagreement.
And that’s a challenge for us all.
Image: Wikimedia Commons