When I saw the photo of Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black holding a photo of an ultrasound, and all the subsequent headlines proclaiming ‘Tom and Lance are having a baby’ I thought one thing above all: ‘That’s strange’. Not ‘eww’, or ‘gross’, or ‘what a way to get over certain negative recent publicity’, but just ‘That’s strange’. Strange that we should have reached the point (inevitable in a way) in which two men announce that they’re having a baby and everyone is meant to just say ‘yay’ and not ask any more questions. ‘Of course two men can have a baby’, we are meant to chant in chorus, before turning on anyone who is silent and adding, ‘And why don’t you agree, bigot?’
I would bet that the majority of the population had the same reaction as me. Most people, other than a certain portion of millennials, are aware of the facts of child-birth. They know that (as the old joke goes) gays may not be able to make babies, but it doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying. There remain certain pre-requisites for childbirth, even now. And one of them is the presence, at some stage at least, of a woman. This is not to make any value judgement, but simply to observe that whatever the rights and wrongs, two men still need a little help if they are going to be with child.
Yet such is the stupid censoriousness of our times that nobody appears to want to even utter the questions which would be on any even half-sentient person’s mind when reading the pregnancy story. We are all meant to just accept the harmless little lie and move along.
Thankfully this week Richard Littlejohn has done what he does best and said what will have been on the minds of a whole lot of people. ‘Please don’t pretend two dads is the new normal’ is the headline to his piece. And I, for one, have great sympathy with the sentiment contained therein. Not least because the manicured story about Black and Daley that has been released lies to a whole generation of young gays. It remains possible that a gay couple can have children. Indeed, I know a few that do. But it tends to be only the very richest gays that can afford it. Because gay child production is not a straightforward business. And it is specifically dishonest to pretend otherwise.
Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley are well-off gays. They may be able to travel the world in search of the right procedures, and rent a womb from a non-third world child-bearer, and all the rest. And if they do so then there’s a whole array of debates that can – and I think should – be had. But I don’t see why in lieu of such discussions we all have to simply join the pretence that Dustin and Tom had a roll-around one night and found themselves pregnant in the morning. We’re not children. Or most of us are not. We should be able to discern and discuss the facts of life.
Except that a certain group of people seem not to want to allow that. ‘Homophobe’ they shout, in the same way that they shout ‘racist’, ‘transphobe’ and ‘misogynist’. This week the usual progressive extremists have got some serious self-righteousness wind in their sails, getting up a campaign against the Daily Mail for publishing Littlejohn’s piece. Various celebrity idiots did what most gives their lives meaning and tweeted their contempt for the Daily Mail, Littlejohn and the outrageous idea that two men can’t just have a baby. A deeply hateful and sectarian group which calls itself ‘Stop Funding Hate’ sent out a list of companies which had advertised in Friday’s Daily Mail. The group’s founder, Richard Wilson, also pronounced ‘The Daily Mail is increasingly out of touch with the views of mainstream British society – and it’s no surprise that more and more advertisers are distancing themselves.’
Personally, I should think that it is ‘Stop Funding Hate’ who are out of touch if they think most people believe two men can make a baby just like that. But they always come armed with some statistic, these people, and here is Wilson’s: A recent YouGov poll found that 58 per cent of people believe that companies should withdraw their advertising if it is placed next to content they think is racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic. Gosh. But of course that would, among other things, depend on whether the content alongside their advertisement actually is ‘racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic’. Is it really ‘homophobic’ to question whether two men can make a baby together, or the ethics therein? I think not. And besides, things do not become ‘homophobic’ simply because ‘Stop Funding Hate’ says so. And even if ‘Stop Funding Hate’ thinks it is homophobic to question whether two gays might need a woman to produce a baby I, as a fully paid-up gay say otherwise. In fact, I think it is homophobic of ‘Stop Funding Hate’ to proclaim that something I agree with is homophobic. It strips me of gay agency, demeans me as a gay man and in fact constitutes a form of hate-crime. ‘Stop Funding Hate’ should expect to have their collars felt by the combined constabularies of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the coming days.
I am going to do this because they work, these bullying tactics. They really do work. Within a few hours a number of ‘Stop Funding Hate’ releasing the names of the companies who advertised in Friday’s Daily Mail a number felt pressured to publicly proclaim that they would never advertise in the Daily Mail again.
These included Center Parcs and London’s Southbank Centre. Personally I have never been to Center Parcs, and will happily now maintain my lifelong boycott. But I have been to the Southbank Centre. I used to go more, when it had a better programme of events than it now has. But I suppose that I could pronounce that in response to the South Bank’s boycott of the Daily Mail I am going to slap them with a ban. Yet the truth is that I see no reason to only attend concerts in venues which have or have not begged fealty to whatever the latest Twitter trend happens to be.
I am just disappointed in them. Until – literally – this week it remained perfectly normal to say that two men cannot produce a baby unassisted. Well not today, apparently. And not tomorrow. I know we’re all just supposed to get with the beat. But to consider where this stupidity and censoriousness will go, just try to imagine what will be decreed the next day. And the day after that. And wonder when ‘Stop Funding Hate’ will come for a group that just happens to include you. And the majority of the rest of the general public.