For gay men to adopt children or to legally use a surrogate has always been tough and somewhat of an achievement given so many countries still don’t have laws that allow it, but with a host of wealthy gay celebrity couples showing off their children on social media some are suggesting they are becoming a status symbol in the gay community.
Filmmaker Yuval Hadadi has spoken Air Mail magazine about the pressure and expectation placed on gay couples to have children.
Hadadi, a filmmaker who has a new feature film, 15 Years, that explores the breakdown of an affluent gay couple’s relationship when one partner decides he wants to become a father.
“Children have in a way become a status symbol among many gay men,” Hadadi explained to Air Mail.
“They signify a certain level of time, money, and ambition.”
During the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, Anderson Cooper welcomed a baby son, Wyatt Morgan, into the world via Instagram to join a growing group of children born through surrogacy and adoption to prominent gay men across the globe— including Ricky Martin, Ryan Murphy, Greg Berlanti, Elton John, Tom Ford, Andy Cohen and Tom Daley.
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I want to share with you some joyful news. On Monday, I became a father. This is Wyatt Cooper. He is three days old. He is named after my father, who died when I was ten. I hope I can be as good a dad as he was. My son’s middle name is Morgan. It’s a family name on my mom’s side. I know my mom and dad liked the name morgan because I recently found a list they made 52 years ago when they were trying to think of names for me. Wyatt Morgan Cooper. My son. He was 7.2 lbs at birth, and he is sweet, and soft, and healthy and I am beyond happy. As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I’m grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son’s birth. Most of all, I am grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, and watched over him lovingly, and tenderly, and gave birth to him. It is an extraordinary blessing – what she, and all surrogates give to families who cant have children. My surrogate has a beautiful family of her own, a wonderfully supportive husband, and kids, and I am incredibly thankful for all the support they have given Wyatt and me. My family is blessed to have this family in our lives I do wish my mom and dad and my brother, Carter, were alive to meet Wyatt, but I like to believe they can see him. I imagine them all together, arms around each other, smiling and laughing, happy to know that their love is alive in me and in Wyatt, and that our family continues.
Many would suggest this outpouring of love for their children is a symbol of LGBTQ equality and a sign that parenthood for gay men can occur when before it wasn’t something anyone could imagine.
But it can also create pressure on less-rich gay couples who wish to follow-suit but can’t due to a number of factors.
A five-year study by John Pachankis at Yale published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology homophobia and anti-gay stigma wasn’t the sole cause of depression and drug use of the LGBTQ population but the hyper-masculine competitiveness between gay men can be just as damaging to their own community.
“There’s no question the pressure and expectation for gay men to have children is definitely here,” said filmmaker Hadadi.
“The real question is whether gay men who don’t want to have kids will one day be seen as less worthy by the community—will one day be forced into a new kind of closet.”
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Air Mail reporter David Kaufman summed up the situation.
“No longer is it enough to simply be successful in your career and also be in possession of a six-pack. Gay men aspiring for [Anderson]Cooper levels of cool now need a newborn to compete for likes.”