“Daddy & Papa” is an intriguing documentary movie shot in 2002 exploring the world of same-sex couples who decide to become parents. By delving into a subject that is rarely talked about, director Johnny Symons opens a can of worms that was bound to spark conservations on the issue. Symons expertly does this by presenting his story and that of four other gay couples that had decided that they were ready to become parents. To help the viewer understand the scope of the overarching theme being discussed, the filmmaker first begins by introducing his partner (William Rogers) in addition to introducing their adopted son by the name Zachary. The scenario they present is one rarely seen due to the hurdles that gay people often face in seeking to play a parenting role. There is no doubt that they represent only a small fraction of individuals who are accorded this privilege, a state of affairs which he claims is as a result of the blatant discrimination that persons of their sexual orientation have to grapple with. In reality, the film seeks to document the lives of gay men as they try to start families of their own especially when the parents are of the same gender.
In producing this documentary film, Symons surveys the various dynamics present in relationships that are rarely given the respect they deserve. He seeks to humanize a group of people that have, in the recent past, been ostracized and relegated to the fringes of society their supposed “queerness” would be accepted. The film succeeds in presenting gay men as rational human beings with feelings and longings just like anyone else, which is why they would openly declare their intention to start families. It is remarkable how, throughout the film, Symons and the other gay parents seek to change the age-old pre-conceptions that were appalled by the idea of such an arrangement. By introducing this subject to the forefront, the film succeeds in bringing the plight of gay parents to light and the challenges they have to surmount. The film was a pioneer in presenting the ramifications, both personal and political, that this particular decision had on the lives of these and where they fit in the United States. Moreover, the documentary treats gay couples as normal individuals who lead typical individuals, who like any other parent, would want to raise children in a happy and safe environment. Theirs is a struggle against the status quo prevalent in the mainstream and to open people’s eyes to the reality that is gay-parenting.
The film also serves as a guide for gay couples that would want to start families of their own. Available options include surrogacy, co-parenting and adoption. The documentary relates stories of how the adoption system from picks children from foster care from around the country. A striking feature of the children awaiting confirmation is that a vast majority of them are children of color. Those intent on adopting them are usually white middle-class gay men who offer are generally hell-bent on ensuring that they achieve this goal. I was quite impressed by the film, giving an overall rating of 7 out of 10 and would recommend it to my classmates.
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