Kevin and Scotty are doing it on Brothers & Sisters while Ricky Martin did it in real life. Now CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien is doing an In America documentary on the phenomenon of gay men having babies via surrogacy.
Titled Gary & Tony Have a Baby and airing in June, the one-hour special follows Gary and Tony, two life-long gay activists, on their quest to have a biological child of their own. A statement from CNN describes the special this way:
Unable to legally marry in the U.S., [Gary and Tony] travel to Canada, get married, and spend thousands on an arduous journey toward parenthood via surrogacy and in vitro fertilization. … Though Gary and Tony had hoped for a happy extended family, they discover instead ambivalence about same-sex marriage. With court battles, and struggles against their hometown community – can these men achieve a life as mainstream as their parents?
Both curious to learn a little more the special, as well as a little leery given CNN’s last look at a gay topic, AfterElton.com spoke with O’Brien to get more details.
AfterElton.com: How did the special come to be?
Soledad O’Brien: For In America, I’m very interested in telling stories that don’t get a lot of play, and don’t get told very often. That fly a little bit under the radar. I was noticing at my daughter’s school and in the places around the city, the number of male couples having children. I was interested and noticed a trend. Then I ran into a couple my producer knew well who were thinking of having a baby. I thought it would be very interesting to follow the process financially of finding a donor, and the emotional processes and psychological journey. In some ways, the most radical thing to do [for a gay couple] is to circle around and have a bigger family unit.
AE: What more can you tell me about Gary and Tony?
SO: They’ve been together for twenty years. They are two guys who have described themselves by saying they grew up when they found each other and they transitioned from young men to grownups together. Their marriage was in Canada in 2005 and while they were happy with that, they eventually decided that they really wanted to have a baby. They loved each other so much that they decided the next natural step was to become a bigger family.
AE: What’s the structure of the special?
SO: We tell the story of how they come to this place. We go with them every step of the way as the implantation happens, as they are navigating all the drama that comes along with having a surrogate. There is a lot of legal maneuvering. By the time we meet them they have the egg donor and surrogate.
AE: The description of the show referred to the guys having problems with their community and encountering "ambivalence." Can you elaborate?
SO: What has been interesting to watch is that the process isn’t always about you, but is sometimes about your family. Not so much what will your family members think, but what will their friends think? What will the surrogate’s friends think? In Gary’s home town [in central Pennsylvania], the church was very uncomfortable with him.They talked about the evil that is homosexuality.
How is that going to make them feel? For our purposes, what it spurs in their head is really interesting. It takes them back to their childhood, back to not being accepted as a gay kid.
AE: Is this just their story or is "the other side" represented here?
SO: We tell their story very organically. They are activists and there are times when their activism brings them into contact with those that oppose them and we show that. But we don’t go out and solicit opinions from those against gay parents.