‘We can now re­ally por­tray what LGBTIQ fam­i­lies are’

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - He­lena Grech

Prom­i­nent fig­ure in the LGBTIQ com­mu­nity David Ba­jada feels blessed to have taken part in a cam­paign delv­ing into the every­day pri­vate lives of fam­i­lies within the same com­mu­nity.

The video was launched by Pres­i­dent Marie Louise Coleiro Preca and pro­duced by the Pres­i­dent’s Foun­da­tion for the Well­be­ing of So­ci­ety.

“I have been ac­tive in the gay com­mu­nity for quite some time. About 17 years ago I was one the first peo­ple to come out that I had a part­ner. We never said boyfriend or re­la­tion­ship, all to pro­tect Solange (his daugh­ter).

“When we told Solange, she ac­cepted my sit­u­a­tion and my life. Then it made things eas­ier.

“Tak­ing part in this project, I think it is one of the ul­ti­mate things that I’ve done for our com­mu­nity be­cause we can now re­ally por­tray what LGBTIQ fam­i­lies are, like ev­ery­one else. I will not use the world nor­mal be­cause there is no def­i­ni­tion of nor­mal­ity, but we can show peo­ple out there that we live a life like ev­ery­one else.

“In my case, my daugh­ter is my bi­o­log­i­cal daugh­ter so she was not adopted, well now he [David’s part­ner] will have to when we get mar­ried.

“Par­ents, of any sex, when there are chil­dren in­volved, the chil­dren have noth­ing to do with the prob­lems. We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards them, to love them, to guide them through life, and that will never change un­til my last breath. Please do not in­volve your chil­dren as a com­pe­ti­tion be­tween par­ents.

Pres­i­dent Marie Louise Coleiro Preca yes­ter­day launched the warm and nat­u­ral video de­pict­ing the lives of five LGBTIQ fam­i­lies liv­ing in Malta.

The video, themed #OurChil­drenAreAl­right, turns the spot­light on five dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies who have taken the dif­fi­cult and brave de­ci­sion to give up their pri­vacy and share their re­al­ties with so­ci­ety.

The fam­i­lies are made up of dif­fer­ent forms, mak­ing the footage all the more real in view of the dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances all fam­i­lies find them­selves in. Among the var­i­ous fam­i­lies, a gay cou­ple who adopted a baby with dis­abil­i­ties is de­picted, an­other cou­ple where one of the men is the nat­u­ral born fa­ther of a young woman from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship and a cou­ple who adopted a small child from overseas.

Like with het­ero­sex­ual fam­i­lies, dif­fer­ent life ex­pe­ri­ences mean that no two fam­i­lies are ex­actly the same. The video is aimed at show­ing how which­ever gen­ders make up a fam­ily, they are not dif­fer­ent in any way. One of the par­ents from the video ex­plained how like ev­ery­one else, there are school bills to pay, home loans, jobs to go to and that ul­ti­mately, life’s daily grind is more or less the same for all.

Pro­duced by the Pres­i­dent’s Foun­da­tion for the Well­be­ing of So­ci­ety, the video is in­tended to sen­si­tise the public to­wards grad­u­ally chang­ing their men­tal­ity and ac­cept­ing that LGBTIQ fam­i­lies are no dif­fer­ent than other het­ero­sex­ual fam­i­lies. They face the same strug­gles as par­ents and chil­dren, but as a con­se­quence of so­ci­ety’s prej­u­dices, their strug­gles be­come much harder.

“This ground­break­ing video, pro­duced by the Foun­da­tion for the Well­be­ing of So­ci­ety, high­lights the im­por­tance of cre­at­ing in­clu­sive and safe spa­ces, for fam­i­lies of all kinds, within Maltese so­ci­ety,” Coleiro Preca said.

The video was shown at the Pres­i­dent’s Palace in At­tard, with the screen­ing hall buzzing with ex­cite­ment and warmth. Pres­i­dent The footage ap­peared to have done its job in that the room was silent while the movie was be­ing shown and an emo­tional at­mos­phere could be felt af­ter­wards.

The tes­ti­monies were de­liv­ered by each fam­ily in their per­sonal liv­ing rooms, which fur­ther drove the feel­ing of in­ti­macy and re­al­ness to the au­di­ence. One tes­ti­mony by an adult child of a gay cou­ple ex­plained how small chil­dren at school do not think to bully other chil­dren for hav­ing gay par­ents all on their own. It is what they are ex­posed to that leads to such be­hav­iour, there­fore more of­ten than not it is the par­ents of chil­dren that need to be ed­u­cated in re­spect and in­clu­sive­ness rather than the chil­dren them­selves.

The woman spoke of how at­ti­tudes have im­proved over the last few years but a con­certed ef­fort needs to be made in or­der to help push this feel­ing of in­clu­siv­ity.

“By show­ing the lived ex­pe­ri­ences of LGBTIQ fam­i­lies, we want to en­cour­age and pro­mote a cul­ture of in­clu­sion and re­spect. We want to con­tribute to a cul­ture of pos­i­tive peace, where the dig­nity of each and ev­ery per­son is truly safe­guarded,” Pres­i­dent Coleiro Preca said.

“Thanks to this video, the foun­da­tion has pro­vided a plat­form to share and to cel­e­brate the nar­ra­tives of di­verse peo­ple within Malta’s LGBTIQ com­mu­nity,” she added.

The video, pro­duced by psy­chol­o­gist Cher V Lau­renti En­gerer and sup­ported by the Em­bassy of the King­dom of the Nether­lands, is in­tended to help par­ents — LGBTIQ or het­ero­sex­ual — to cre­ate an hon­est di­a­logue with their chil­dren.

Elaine Mi­callef, who led the project on be­half of the PFWS, said that as a mother of two liv­ing in a same-sex re­la­tion­ship, she was filled with hope that this video would reach its ob­jec­tives, and raise aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing that LGBTIQ fam­i­lies were the same as any other fam­ily.

The ob­jec­tive of this video is to give a voice to LGBTIQ par­ents through a per­son­alised nar­ra­tive that the com­mu­nity can iden­tify with.

Short re­marks were de­liv­ered by Rus­sell Sam­mut from the Malta Pride 2017 Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee, Dr Ruth Bal­dacchino, co-sec­re­tary gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, Trans and In­ter­sex As­so­ci­a­tion and Dr Ruth Far­ru­gia, director-gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Foun­da­tion for the Well­be­ing of So­ci­ety.

Photo: Baskal Mal­lia

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