I caught the 2005 documentary All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise last night on SBS. Oh man. I found it incredibly moving. Did any of you guys catch it, or have seen it before?
The documentary was filmed on board the inaugural gay family cruise that Rosie O'Donnell, her partner Kelli and their friend Gregg arranged in 2004. I know that some people think having a 'gay' anything is going down the wrong track, one of isolating ourselves rather than integrating, or making too much out of our perceived difference. However, you just had to look at the kids on the cruise to see the powerfull affect that being around other gay families had. Not having to explain, defend or justify their families to strangers, and to meet kids with a shared experience. The affect on the parents was no less powerfull, meeting other couples who had made the same life choices and struggled with the same issues.
The film profiled a bunch of the families and couples on board, and many of them were amazing stories but I was especially moved by the story of US dance sport champion Charles Paragian and his partner Danny Sernekos. After years of awaiting approval they fostered two unrelated children, who they then were able to adopt. On learning that both kids had siblings they adopted them as well, ending up with a tribe of 5 kids. Watching them with their kids was magical, an extremely loving and functional family. When Paragian and Sernekos decided to get 'married' on the ship, they were amazed at how excited their kids were for them and how much it meant to them to have their parents make that formalised committment to each other.
I blubbed through the entire wedding like I was the mother of one of the grooms or something. I'm hopeless. Of course, once started I then proceeded to shed the odd manly tear through the rest of the film...
So. It was sort of empowering to see so many loving gay couples and families, and very moving to hear from the kids themselves about how much they loved their parents and their unique family. I think there is definately a positive impact in seeing a broad variety of committed gay relationships. Obviously a traditional style family model is not for everyone, but it's nice to see it represented as an alternative and to appreciate the sheer hard work and committment that most of these families have put in to achieve what they have.
Check it out if you missed it and ever get the opportunity to see it. It's worth it.
[Updated: Oh, and I should add one thing. I'm in the market for one of these loving relationship things (sans kids) so, you know, applications are open. Please be sure and address all points of the criteria. As you were.]
[There's more info in this HBO interview with Rosie and Kelli, and the synopsis of the documentary. There is also quite a detailed review on AZcentral. Rosie also has a Flickr account where she often posts her family pics.]