Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Dolce and Gabbana Contra Sir Elton John (and Gay Equality?), by Aaron Saunderson-Cross

In a recent interview with Italian news magazine Panorama, fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana made controversial remarks regarding same-sex parenting and children born via IVF fertility and surrogacy techniques.

The pair’s remarks, which included Dolce’s lambasting ‘chemical children’, ‘synthetic babies’ and ‘wombs for rent’, were widely republished causing an internet storm with Sir Elton John calling for a boycott of the luxury brand on Instagram.

John wrote: ‘How dare you refer to my beautiful children as "synthetic"’. The BBC reports that John’s #BoycottDolceGabbana hash tag has been used more than 30,000 times with a list of celebrities tweeting their support including Courtney Love, Ricky Martin and retired tennis star Martina Navratilova.

The Italian fashion designers who recently exhibited their ‘Viva la mamma’ collection for the Milan Fashion Week have sought to clarify their remarks stating: ‘We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression’ and Dolce’s noting: ‘I was talking about my personal view, without judging other people’s choices and decisions.’

In an interview with Corriere Della Sera magazine about their controversial remarks, the pair criticize John’s call for a boycott as ‘unenlightened’ and ‘ignorant’ and complain of a lack of respect and tolerance afforded their position.

Dolce and Gabbana do indeed have a democratic right to articulate their opinions on sex, parenting and family life and it’s interesting that a number of Christian voices have lent their support to the pair’s cause: two powerful gay men breaking ranks and harshly criticizing the moral trajectory of principles widely held as the bedrocks of gay equality (namely same-sex marriage, IVF for gay couples, and gay adoption) is an irresistible story.

The tone and rhetoric of D&G’s remarks is patently unjust and – intentionally or not – works to support existing homophobic narratives regarding unnatural and pretend LGBT families; Charlie Condou and Cameron Laux argue this brilliantly in their guest column for Attitude magazine.

This being said it’s disconcerting that the gay media, notably an interview with journalist Patrick Strudwick for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, have been quick to pathologize the designer’s remarks as the expression of ‘self-hatred’ and ‘internalized homophobia’ which is a strategic attempt to dismiss the substance of their remarks and marginalize the voices of religious sexual minorities (Dolce is a Catholic).

The sexual complementarity of parents, the indispensability of the mother and father, and the centrality of love in procreative relationships, are serious issues, and Gabbana’s praise of the ‘supernatural sense of belonging’ in family life strike me as a charismatic endorsement of the family.

I would then that Dolce and Gabbana had written in length on what they believed that married family life was, rather than on what they believed that it is not.

And, indeed, my prayers are with them.

1 comment:

  1. Although I pretty much believe the opposite of what Messrs Dolce and Gabbana do, I think their views are defensible and worthy of respect.