The gay families in True Life echo these sentiments of open-mindedness, compassion, and acceptance. While being confronted by her teachers at a marching band tryout, Aidan comments that she wouldn't want to make anyone uncomfortable with her politics or family life. It seems that sheâ€”the outsider, the "queer" studentâ€”is the only one mature and intelligent enough to look past who her parents are.
Although the show tends to focus on the teens' development independent from their families, the idea that gay parents propagate homosexuality in their children is eventually brought up. Shifty-eyed Cooperâ€”who was conceived through artificial inseminationâ€”says that he deals with this issue a lot. "A lot of people [think] when you come from a gay family, doesn't that make you turn gay? But… I'm not."
All of the teens profiled in True Life seem to have an answer for this commonly held belief. "I think that is the most B.S. thing that anyone has ever come up with in a million years," comments Aidan. "Because honestly, where do gay people come from? Straight families!
The logic doesn't hold."
Suggestions of subtle biases and vague allusions to stereotypes are about as far as this documentary is willing to go, as True Life deals with the topic of gay families by addressing the parents as being incidentally gay, rather than catalysts for protest and hate.
From a visibility perspective, this insipid approach actually has a positive impact. There are no militant lectures on gay marriage or generations of man-hating lesbians, only real families with real household issues.
While it doesn't make for the most intriguing hour of television, this portrayal of gay families also makes it more difficult for Conservatives to make the "protect the families" argument; the gay moms and dads in the show aren't raising dysfunctional gay children, or subjecting them to whatever oddities and extremes the religious right might envision. They are simply doing laundry, making dinner, and driving their kids to school like everyone else.
If television can be refreshingly vapid, this is it.
But for lesbian viewers who knew all along that gay families are as real as any other, these trivialities may prove to be a disappointment. There is nary a discussion of politics or discrimination, and the teaser to the show showed more hateful comments than the actual documentary. In fact, the show lacks almost any opinion from the religious right, although surely they exist in "true life."
Aidan's classmates quote the Bible and stumble over the word "ho-homo-homosexuality", but that is about as far as it goes. The theme of the show clearly lies in the mundane activities, with the tiniest undercurrent of "why not them?"
Although it may be to the detriment of lesbian entertainment value, real cases like these make it harder for anyone to justify denying the existence of these families. In that regard, True Life: I Have Gay Parents succeeds withâ€”and may even win overâ€”the audience whose support is most needed.