Barbara Kay: Dolce and Gabbana’s views on parenting are commonplace. There’s no homophobia here


National Post - Tuesday March 24th, 2015

LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
A protester holds up a placard reading 'All people have a right to family life' outside a branch of Italian fashion label Dolce and Gabbana in central London on March 19, 2015.

In 2011 John Galliano, the “zany British bad boy” of the fashion world, was shamed and shunned by all right-thinking people when, in a recorded drunken rant, he cried, “I love Hitler.” Last week two design celebrities, Domenico Dolce and Stephano Gabbana (D&G), were shamed and shunned after Dolce publicly opined: “You are born to be a mother and a father. Or at least that’s how it should be.” One can understand the symmetry of the heated public response: Both opinions are, after all, outrageous.

‘How dare you refer to my beautiful children as synthetic': Elton John livid at Dolce & Gabbana IVF rant

Sir Elton John has called for a boycott of fashion label Dolce & Gabbana, prompting a war of words with the leading designers, after they criticized same-sex families.

In a scathing post on the photograph-sharing site Instagram, the furious singer branded Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana “judgmental” and “archaic.”

It followed an interview the designers gave to an Italian magazine in which they said: “We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one.

“No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.”

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The above paragraph ends with a joke (I don’t make assumptions: gendered umbrage is the kiss of death to humour appreciation). Galliano’s words truly were outrageous and Christian Dior was right to fire him. But D&G’s words were, objectively, not in the least outrageous. The Italian duo’s shared perspective was, until a few decades ago, upheld by 100% of the world’s population, and is currently still upheld by about 99%. D&G’s emphasis on children’s need for mothers — hence their stated opposition to gay parenting — is even enshrined in our family court system via the “tender years” doctrine, according to which the unique maternal bond with a child supersedes fathers’ right to shared parenting.

D&G’s views are commonplace and unremarkable. What was outrageous was the campaign to shame and punish them for stating them. Pop star Sir Elton John, who with his partner David Furnish parents two “synthetic” children (Dolce’s clumsy conflation of artificial reproductive technology with the normal children it produces), was not satisfied by a mere reprimand. His reflex was to ruin D&G professionally, creating the Twitter hashtag #BoycottDolceGabbana for maximal mobbing effect. It worked. Shocked by the firestorm for which they had unwittingly provided the fuel, D&G apologetically walked back their statements.

Gender correctness is running amok. What began in a movement that has achieved its political goals has transmogrified into a cultural tyranny in which open skepticism on allegedly settled questions of queer theory and practice is proscribed. The word “homophobia,” absurdly applied to D&G, is now a meaning-free cudgel for beating dissenters into submission.

Mob hysteria obscured the innocence of D&G’s sympathy with natural law. Where is D&G’s thought crime in concluding, via empirical observation and their own personal experience, that, all other things being equal, children derive optimal psychological and emotional benefit from their biological connection to both parents? If children did not yearn for biological connection, adopted children would never brood over their history, and sperm-donor children would not feel bereft of half their biological inheritance, as many do.

Which is not to say that single, adoptive and gay parents are incompetent or inadequate parents. A belief in a general principle can co-exist in perfect harmony with respect for alternate family arrangements in particular. And Dolce said as much (“I respect you because you choose what you want. I respect me because I choose what I want.”).

If the word “homophobia” is to retain any meaning, it must be used only where it belongs. It doesn’t belong here

The liberal media are no help in airing public discussion of the issue. They are so keen to earn their gender-correct spurs, so anxious to avoid even a whiff of what might be interpreted by the cultural homintern as homophobia, that when they approach the subject at all, they tend to veer into a fugue of mindless homo-reverence.

For a typical example of homo-reverence, a few years ago The Globe & Mail ran a feature article called “The seven habits of highly effective lesbian families.” The article quite openly chivvied readers toward the conclusion that lesbian parents are not only equal, but superior to heterosexual couples. Yet the lesbian “secrets” — don’t hit your kids, stand up for them, give them space, surround them with a supportive circle, etc. — were sociologically banal, and no different from basic strategies espoused by all responsible parents. Journalistically, there was no story in this politically correct and intellectually insulting infomercial.

If the liberal media were to solicit the views of gay conservatives (yes, they exist), D&G’s views would not seem startling. I canvassed a few gay conservative friends and they agreed with D&G. Roy Eappen, a gay Montreal doctor, tells me, “I think families straight and gay are wonderful [but] I do think it is better for a child to be raised by a man and woman.” Gay Ottawa political gadfly Fred Litwin says, “Children need moms and dads. That is the best, for sure.” Both are contemptuous of attempts to chill discourse on the subject.

The martyrdom of D&G has this to teach us: If the word “homophobia” is to retain any meaning, it must be used only where it belongs. It doesn’t belong here. A word to gay activists: Live and let live; speak and let speak; hashtag, don’t fasctag.