Interesting film scores points for gay adoption. Worth seein
Nenah Sylver | sunny Arizona | 10/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary chronicles an unusual family. Life partners Roger and Steve take into their hearts and home, HIV+ children whom no one else wants. The two men are nurses, which -- along with their dedication and methodical parenting skills -- seems to make them ideally suited for the job. Through the combination of professionally filmed interviews, and home movies that were serendipitously made when the children as infants first came to live with the men (the oldest in the movie is now in his late teens), we see mostly the everyday aspects of their lives: getting the kids dressed for school, counting out their endless pills (each child is on different medications), tucking them in at night. Glimpses of family life are interspersed with some well-placed comments from gay-friendly academics. One of the best parts of the documentary are the outtakes, where religious right folks are talking while humorous captions below point out the folly and flaws in their prejudice.
Interestingly, the male couple are white and the first few children taken into the home are black. When two white boys are later taken in to the home, the other kids express astonishment -- not that they've been living with a gay couple all this time, but that the new additions are white!
The conflict in this film occurs when the state of Florida decides that this collection of people cannot possibly be a "real" family, and that since Bert is no longer HIV+ (thanks to Steve's and Roger's loving ministrations), he's now "good enough" to be farmed out for adoption. Steve and Roger, because of their gay status, are not allowed to adopt children in Florida. The family now lives in Oregon, near a set of loving and accepting grandparents who serve an important role as an extended family. But hanging over their heads is the possibility that Bert can be wrenched from this loving and stable family unit at any time.
Bert is the only child given even a modicum of air time, away from the rest of the family. A sensitive and talented musician, Bert also takes ballet lessons. Although someone in the religious right is quoted as saying that ballet will certainly make Bert gay, in a brief interview Bert says that he loves ballet because he gets to meet so many girls. So much for genderizing culture!
I gave this film 4 instead of 5 stars because one, the children were not filmed talking about their feelings about living in this unusual family. And two, the lone (surviving) girl living in a family of four brothers and two dads was given very little camera time, and there was no analysis of what it's like to be the lone girl in such a household. It would be interesting to see how all the kids turn out in ten years (two of the boys didn't look too happy riding on a float in a gay rights parade) -- and the film focuses more on the work of parenting than on capturing the subjective reactions of the children. However, despite these omissions, the children do appear loved, and it's obvious that this is a "real" family. To legally forbid gays from adopting is foolish, short-sighted, even cruel -- and sad for countless children who need homes. This documentary is definitely worth seeing.
An Important Family
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 08/05/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In media discussions about Prince, sometimes Patti LaBelle has spoken for him, rather than Prince speaking for himself. Ann Rice, Rosie O'Donnell and many others have done the same for Madonna. Perhaps because of the "20/20" interview and many other such interviews, the fathers don't speak to the camera, allowing friends and experts to do it for them.
The fathers are heroic; it makes sense that Rosie would ally herself with them. Still, for people who like succinct stories, they could just re-watch that "20/20" interview. This is something longer, probably meant for fans and supporters of the family.
I love the way this work connects racism and homophobia. Too many people with agendas want to act like the oppressions are apples and oranges. However, the children face oppression for being Black AND HIV-positive. The fathers face prejudice for being gay AND having Black adopted children. I do wish this documentary included more supportive experts of color, rather than just one. Still, I thank the documentary for not dropping the ball and acting as if this issue was a uni-faceted matter.
I hope this work really gets sympathetic viewers active. If Florida can finally get rid of its law that keeps former inmates from the polls, they can get rid of the law that harms this family. Hopefully, this documentary will really get activists and children's advocates to speak up and fight the good cause."