Kick Starting the Guys Next Door
What really defines a family? One mom, one dad, a white picket fence, 2 kids and a dog that resembles Lassie? As the boundaries of science continue to broaden and social awareness begins to become a prevalent need, the definition of what describes a family has also evolved.
Family building challenges do not just stretch across heterosexual couples. In fact, less than half, 46% of children under 18 are in what is referred to as “traditional” homes with first marriage, heterosexual parents. Single women are having egg freezing parties and building their family as single mothers through sperm donation. Single men are embarking on an increasing family building trend to become a father through surrogacy. And now with gay marriage becoming legal in several states, the LGBTA community are increasingly pursing options such as surrogacy to build their dreams of becoming parents.
Enter in The Guys Next Door Kickstarter project by filmmakers Amy Geller and Allie Humenuk. They invite the viewers into the home and lives of Erik Mercer and Sandro Sechi, a married gay couple with two daughters who were birthed via surrogacy by a friend of theirs Rachel Segall. Rachel quotes, “It struck me as incredibly unfair that my husband and I could so easily have children, and that for two gay men to have children it would be such a hardship. I believe that being able to help our good friends have their daughters not only benefits them, but also benefits my family, and really, benefits the world around us. My hope is that it [this film] helps people see that family can look like many different and wonderful things, and how two gay men, given the opportunity, can create a beautiful home filled with love and strong values, just as well as a heterosexual couple can.”
The award-winning filmmakers documented Erik and Sandro over a 3 year time span. Capturing everything from the intricacies of home life with their first daughter, the birth of their second daughter, family vacations and all of the peaks and valleys that parenthood has to offer. By painting a family portrait through the film, the filmmakers were able to gain access to their thoughts and feelings and allowed the viewer to see what it was like to see the real emotion of parents. Allie Humenuk, says, “We believe that our characters’ openness, sincerity, and their sense of humor will foster empathy and understanding. If people see what a loving and complex gay family looks like, it changes minds.” The glimpse into the lives of Erik and Sandro that these filmmakers provide paints a tapestry of happiness, joy, hope, and overcoming hardship all on a canvas made of an enduring love that is expressed so genuinely between Erik and Sandro and toward their daughters.
The filmmakers Kickstarter launched March 8th and by the second day, they had reached 50% of their goal. It was very apparent that people are hungry for this story and there is a need for it to be told. Now, 80% is funded and the deadline ends April 11th 2015. Their goal of $60,000 will help to supply the filmmakers with the funds they need to produce a fine cut. Once the fine cut is finalized it will be sent out to broadcasters like TBS, Sundance and various others. It is their hope, by telling this story that they can kick down some of those social barriers and help bring more awareness to what a gay family looks like by peaking in through the window. For those who may not agree with surrogacy, or those “non-traditional” family units, by seeing this documentary, they may form a different opinion or at least, start the conversation towards awareness.
The generational divide of archaic thinking still exists. It still even creeps into our youth and how they may envision a family. One thing is certain, we are starting to talk about it. Even in recent media, designers Dolce and Gabbana who are part of the LGBTA community, lashed out negatively about non-traditional families calling IVF children synthetic, referring the them as chemical babies, and referring to the gestational carrier in surrogacy as a “rented uterus.” I applaud the cast of The Guys Next Door and the filmmakers for campaigning to show us what truly makes a family through their camera lens and through this documentary. To me, and those who see this documentary, it is very clear what defines a family, a foundation of love. Help be a part of telling this story and check out the link to their trailer. If you are compelled by watching the trailer and reading the updates, consider donating to help them complete their Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/709048917/the-guys-next-door?ref=category