Why Dolce & Gabbana Isn’t The Last Word On Gay Adoption

Comments made to the Italian magazine Panorama by the designer duo of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana on the subject of “traditional” families and their disdain for gay adoption and IVF have raised eyebrows in their community and worldwide. The amount of anger that has been displayed by Elton John and leading LGBT groups is astounding.

I say, no one ought to be surprised.

The Italian brand, which is most known for those questionable adverts depicting sex and violence and the tax evasion case in 2009, has consistently celebrated the idea of traditional family in their campaigns for over a decade. The most significant component in the campaign, of course, is the mother, who is the brand’s demographic. Many of those campaigns depict the woman as the centre of the household, in command of her space and her environment, which more often than not, includes children.

From a world standpoint, Italy is the home of Catholicism, of the enforcement of ‘traditional’ values that were only considered traditional in ancient times because they were functional. Traditional marriage and family were functional because only women can bear children, and if we were to examine the foundations of marriage, we would see a heartbreaking truth — but that is for another article.

No, in this article we are discussing two gay men, raised in traditional Italian homes and families, one who claims he will never have children because he is gay (Dolce), and the other who — despite previously having been quoted as being against surrogates, IVF, or ‘wombs for rent’, — has stated he is open to having children, but only with a woman to hold onto the idea of a traditional Italian family. We are talking about men who have advocated for children’s rights (through their work with Children’s Action Network and others), and who have been open about being gay since the inception of the brand in 1985. We are talking about two men who are wise enough to know that their views would be debated, and all publicity is good publicity.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that these two are living in that world of enhanced fantasy known as the fashion world. Let us not forget that they are living in a world that grants them far more power than they possess, because at the end of the day, the casual comments from fashion designers means very little in terms of ideological views.

So. Dolce & Gabbana aren’t the last word on gay adoption. In fact, they aren’t the first — or last — to get it utterly wrong either.

There is a vast amount of children that need families. Families. An adult, or two, or three, that provide support, encouragement, food, shelter, and love in a secure environment where children are allowed to grow and develop into individuals. That is what a family is. A family isn’t the pairing of opposite genders to facilitate an archaic idea of masculine and feminine ideals. A family isn’t what is was in ancient times, it’s not a concrete idea, much like the modern idea of marriage — a union of two consenting adults that provides them legal rights as it pertains to their partner.

And the idea, the very idea, that a gay couple, or any couple, who wants to give a child a loving home, would be denied that right because it’s not a “traditional” family is not only obsolete, it’s dangerous.

What Dolce & Gabbana are essentially saying is that a foster child, one with no parents and no home, would have to wait for a married heterosexual couple to come along and want to adopt them. That’s heartbreaking. In the world, vast amounts of children need homes, and if gay couples want to adopt, then those children are no longer wards of the state, so susceptible to abuse or neglect at the hands of foster parents.

What the duo is saying is that those children are better off in foster care than with caring people who would love them and give them a safe way to grow up. They’re saying that gay parents — like Tom Ford and Richard Buckley — aren’t as good of role models as heterosexual couples.

Dolce & Gabbana claim “traditional” families are the best ways to raise a child. They are quoted as saying that psychologists aren’t equipped to deal with the trauma surrounding an unnatural birth (IVF, test tube, surrogate birth) or an untraditional family situation (LGBT families). One can only surmise that the pair think the sexual distinctions of a couple matter far more to the idea of raising a child than, say, patience. Love. Strength. Maturity. Wisdom. Compassion. Empathy. And these are just to name a few.

But let’s stick with the idea that “traditional” families are the only suitable candidates for raising a successful child.

Let’s examine this. Foster care children (all born with the beginnings of a traditional family), the vast majority of them being five and over, have already been saddled with the trauma of being in foster care. There is abuse, there is neglect, there is the feeling of already being different, and the issues that come with understanding you haven’t got a family, let alone a traditional one. In several cases, foster care homes (mostly, traditional) are using the children as a way to make money (especially here in America). Oftentimes, foster care children are subjected to abuse by foster families and act out if the family wants to adopt them.

Even if an adoption process is successful, a traditional families are rarely the paradise they are depicted as by Dolce & Gabbana. Sexual indiscretions are not limited to people without families, and those indiscretions can become knowledge to the children. There can be physical and emotional abuse, just like in any family.

For a real-world example, let’s look at Arkansas Rep. Justin Harris. Harris pressured DHS (Department of Human Services) to go forward with the adoption of three young girls into his family, even after he’d been told the girls would not be a good match for them. Shortly before the adoption became final, Harris and his wife returned the eldest daughter to foster care, claiming she was too difficult to handle. The other two girls were adopted.

Less than a year after the adoption was finalized, Harris (a “traditional” values man, married to a woman) re-homed the girls with an employee of his, who later went on to rape the six year-old daughter. When the story came to light, claims of the girls being possessed by demons, locked doors and security cameras, and the children separated in different rooms for hours at a time surfaced.

This man is a representative in the United States Congress. He is traditional. His wife is traditional. So this adoption should have gone smoothly, according to Dolce & Gabbana. This adoption ought to have been a match made in heaven.

But it wasn’t.

And that’s because Dolce & Gabbana got it wrong when they spoke about family. A traditional family does not give you a different kind of love and attention. It’s a myth, one that is dispersed as truth because religious/traditional views (in many case, interchangeable) are often a way to control the ideas of a public.

Dolce & Gabbana got it wrong when they said psychologists aren’t equipped to handle untraditional children from untraditional families. As society changes, the view of gay adoption will change, become accepted (as it already has been), and will not be a source of contention on the playground.

Children only see something like their family dynamic as wrong or evil if you tell them so, it’s not something they are born knowing. You aren’t born knowing what a traditional family is, you just grow up knowing that yours is right for you.

What will matter to those children who are given the gift of family is that they are loved, they are understood, they are respected, loved, cherished, encouraged, and challenged. What will matter is that people loved them so much, they adopted them, took them into their home, a choice the children have no say in. What will matter is that their moms or dads will pick them up when they fall and tell them to try again. What will matter is that they have a safe place to go home to, a bed to sleep in, and parents who will check the closets for monsters.

That’s all that matters.

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