Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who is having a baby via surrogate with husband Tom Daley, had a great response when a radio caller said “two blokes” shouldn’t have a child.
The American-born Oscar winner, who has been pilloried in the UK’s right-wing press after announcing plans to have a baby with British husband Tom Daley, took over BBC Radio 5 Live’s Afternoon Edition today to co-host an hour-long discussion about surrogacy.
During the segment, Black said that the negative reaction within the UK was fuelled by “misconceptions” – and revealed that after months of silence, he and his husband have decided to be very public about their parenthood in order to challenge people’s opinions.
He said: “We have made a decision to move forward on this with full transparency, and if at all possible shed some light on what surrogacy really is, what gay parenting really is. If it makes it easier for others going forward, we will do that.”
On the show, Black was challenged by one caller who said that “two blokes” shouldn’t bring up a child.”
The caller had said: “I don’t agree with Lance on a few things, that’s just my opinion. I think you should have surrogacy, but the only thing I disagree with… I don’t have an issue with gay people, I want to make that clear.
“The only thing I don’t agree with is, it’s been eating away at me for a few years, is I don’t think two blokes can bring a baby up. You need the mother there. They are very different to us… they are very different, women.”
The screenwriter responded: “There are all different kinds of families out there in the world, and for many different reasons – some of them tragic – children are raised by single parents all the time.
“Those children – I’d like to claim myself as one, I was raised by a single mother for some difficult reasons, and she raised me incredibly well.
“Will it be important that our son meets women in his life? Absolutely. That will be there. It would be wrong to deprive a child of that – and frankly bizarre and probably impossible.”
— BBC Radio 5 live (@bbc5live) March 27, 2018
He also challenged a caller who said that he was worried the child of gay dads would be bullied for being different.
Black responded: “That comment is a dangerous one. I’m not sure the caller meant it this way, but the argument that they only people who should have children are in the majority – who won’t have to explain to their child that they pray to a different God or their skin’s a different colour or they have two dads – that’s a very dangerous argument.”
The father-to-be also questioned why attitudes towards his impending fatherhood had been more negative in the UK than in the US
He said: “I have a question, and it’s one I didn’t know I would have to ask two months ago. It’s what is it about surrogacy that bothers some in the United Kingdom?
“In the United States, where we’ve been working with our surrogate, the reception was incredibly warm with almost no exception.
“Perhaps that’s because it’s been going on a bit longer, is understood and has legal clarity around it.
“But here, we heard some things that weren’t so friendly, which suggested there were some misconceptions about what surrogacy is. That, to me, has opened this window that has shone some light on how the legal framework here might not be as helpful, as humane or as family-oriented as it is where I come from.”
Of the criticism tossed at him and his husband, he said: “Both of us live our lives in the public eye. You learn over time that when you have a negative reaction to something, you can personalise it and freak out and yell and scream – but you learn, that’s not very helpful, that doesn’t create understanding.
“Over time I’ve tried to create understanding, and the way to do that is to be curious, and to listen to those criticisms with curiosity, so I started asking a lot of questions. That was my first reaction – what is the history around surrogacy in this country, what are the laws, what are people’s experiences?
“I think there’s many misconceptions… even on the ride here, the driver had a lot of opinions about surrogacy. But as we got into it, he didn’t know what surrogacy entails.
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“He thought the surrogate had a biological connection to the child, and this child is being ripped away from a woman who it has a biological connection to. I had to say, that’s not what a surrogate is.
“Another misconception is that these surrogates are from impoverished nations and they’re being forced to do this to make the money to survive. That’s a huge misconception. It’s not the way that happens, period.
“In order for someone to be a surrogate they have to go through medical and psychological examination. You also have to meet them and fall in love with them and form a relationship that is very likely going to last a lifetime.
“These are people you care for greatly, and who in many ways can become family. Those misconceptions are just not what surrogacy is.”
Black also revealed that he and Daley would be bringing up their child in the UK – despite the legal challenges that entails, given their surrogate is in the US.
Alluding to his husband’s Olympic record, he said: “If I ever wanted to be truly loathed by this nation, I would take Tom away from here – but I don’t want that, and he doesn’t want that.
“We would like to raise our son here, but because of that we’re going to face some legal challenges in being considered the parents of our own child when we bring our son back to this country. I’m here today to say, I think that’s wrong.
“From the moment of birth [in America] you are on the birth certificates, which you are not here. That goes for gay and straight couples. So it would be a much easier path if we decided to raise our son in the United States, but we love this country, and it’s home for us.
“Tom is incredibly proud to represent this country, so we are going to take the more difficult path of raising our son here.”