It has been hard to ignore one of the latest celebrity spats to grace the Internet.
Elton John reacted angrily to words spoken by high-profile fashion partners Dolce & Gabbana on the subject of ‘natural’ children and IVF.
Sir Elton, who has two children conceived through IVF with marriage partner David Furnish, hit out at the Italian couple for suggesting babies born as a result of IVF are ‘synthetic’.
“How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’,” he wrote on his Instagram account last week.
“And shame on you for wagging you judgemental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children.
“Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions.
“I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana”
In response, Dolce & Gabbana called for people to boycott Elton John, calling him ‘fascist’.
Now a huge number of people have weighed in with their opinions and support for other side or the other.
Bizarrely, Italian politicians have compared Elton John to a member of the Taliban for being “an intolerant person who wants to block anyone who thinks different to him.”
Meanwhile, many celebrities have come out in support of Sir Elton, including Ricky Martin, Courtney Love and Martina Navratilova.
In addition, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said he supported a D&G boycott.
Panorama, the Italian magazine which printed the interview with Dolce & Gabbana, decided to publish the entire interview in an attempt to dispel some of the myths and misinterpretation surrounding in.
While this automatic English translation of the interview leaves a lot to be desired, it does suggest the pair have strong views on what is ‘right’ and ‘natural’, and what is not.
They are convinced the most normal way for a child to be brought up is through natural childbirth and with a mother and father figure.
When asked about the desire to become fathers, Dolce says something along the lines of, “I’m gay, I cannot have a child. I believe that we cannot have everything in life, if there is not to say that there must be. It is also good to deprive yourself of something. Life has its natural course, there are things that must not be changed. And one of these is the family.”
Interestingly, there is no mention in this interview about Gabbana’s apparent proposition to a woman in 2006 to father a child. Other reports do suggest this to be fact, though, which makes the pair’s comments intriguing, at best, if not a little hypocritical.
Of course, anything I write in response is a judgement in itself.
I fully believe in everyone’s right to free speech, irrespective of whether that may cause offence to another person or group. Taking offence is the recipient’s choice.
The original interview was held in response to D&G’s latest family-themed project, which included a campaign to collect family-inspired photos from around the world. It’s not surprising the subjects of families and relationships come up.
Unfortunately, this is yet another case of celebrities and experts in one particular field making comments about something else.
The Italian pair have every right to voice their personal beliefs about family life. It may have been better for Elton John to simply ignore them and continue building his own family.
After all, it’s not as if the pair stood outside Elton’s house, verbally attacking his family.
Everyone has opinions on what ‘family’ means to them, and what they believe the best way to bring up children is, whether they choose to voice them or not.
In my view, there are a number of very good scenarios allowing children to be loved and nurtured, and for adults to achieve their desire to be parents.
The biological ‘norm’ is conception and birth with a male and female, but we are all too aware of tragedy and abuse of children at the hands of these ‘natural’ partners.
Surely a child’s best upbringing is in a loving and stable home, free from neglect and abuse, where they can safely grow and blossom.
For many, that is with a mother and a father who were fortunate to conceive naturally.
For others, it’s with a loving couple who endured the emotional and physical roller coaster of IVF.
It’s the child who is adopted into a loving family and thus rescued from a dire situation.
We all have our own beliefs and our own ideals, but we also need to understand that we don’t live in a world that conforms to a single pattern.
Perhaps it would be better for those with particularly loud voices to use their position to speak out for the vulnerable, rather than picking fights with one another.
Here are links to some articles documenting how events unfolded:
- Original interview in Panorama (in Italian)
- Original interview in Panorama (auto-translated to English)
- Elton calls for D&G boycott over same-sex parents comments (BBC)
- Elton is a fascist for boycotting our clothes, says Gabbana (The Telegraph)
- Elton John and leading LGBT groups call for Dolce & Gabbana boycott (The Guardian)