Complexity in a same-sex parenting story…

Complexity in a same-sex parenting story… Andréa and Colette in Dix Pour Cent with baby

Recently, two young women in Cork were pictured happily with new-born twins. Geraldine Rea and Niamh O’Sullivan were delighted with the babies and although Geraldine actually gave birth to the twins, both women will be registered as parents, under the Children and Family Relationships Act of 2015. They said it was a great step forward for LGBT equality.

Ethics are not a big feature of their practices”

It is absolutely not my place to judge the couple personally. I look back and see some of the failings I had as a mother, and it’s taught me never to criticise the conditions of anyone else’s situation. And I’ve also learned that the most surprising people can turn out to be excellent parents.

But stories can show some of life’s twists and turns, and a storyline emerged in the French Netflix comedy-drama Call My Agent which illuminated some of the complications arising from same-sex parenting.

Call My Agent – originally Dix Pour Cent in French – is hilarious, totally amoral, and cynically sophisticated in a very Parisian way. It’s the story of four talent agents who are partners in a show-biz agency. They backstab, manipulate, tell any amount of fibs, and double-cross whoever and whenever. Ethics are not a big feature of their practices. And yet, there’s a continual theme of actions begetting consequences in the narrative.

Andréa (Camille Cottin), a senior agent, is a showboating lesbian, and yet, in a crazy – and typically amoral, if farcical – episode she falls into bed with her financial boss, Hichem (Assaad Bouab). She’s appalled when she discovers, subsequently, that she’s pregnant. Abortion is never mentioned – it’s not a word often used in drama – but it’s implied by the declared intention of “not keeping it”. Still, Andréa, hard-bitten though she be, is in turmoil. And then an old girlfriend, Colette (Ophélia Kolb) comes back into her life, and persuades her to continue the pregnancy. They’ll be parents together.

And so the pregnancy proceeds, and when baby appears, predictably, everyone is smitten by the joy of new life. Andréa and Colette are preparing to register as co-parents when the biological father suddenly comes forward and says he wishes to be recognised as the sire. French law also allows for official ‘acknowledgement’ of a father, even when a same-sex couple wish to register as co-parents.

It’s the gay girlfriend, Colette, who is the key influence in persuading Andréa to continue the pregnancy”

You’d have to follow the drama to see the eventual outcome! But what the storyline illustrates is that there can be complexities, by virtue of the biological facts of conception, even when the law allows a same-sex couple to register as parents.

Yet there’s another irony in the narrative too. It’s the gay girlfriend, Colette, who is the key influence in persuading Andréa to continue the pregnancy. So, in a way, she has made a decisive contribution to bringing the baby girl to birth.


Praying the rain away

As it looks as though we’ll be doing a lot more meeting and eating out of doors this spring and summer, let’s hope for decent weather. And dining al fresco is a delightful Italian import. The French café tradition – where the cafeteria extends to the pavement – should be widely copied. I’d like to see city pavements turned over to tables from restaurants and cafeterias (with awnings in case of a shower). The German biergarten is altogether a jolly extension to a pub: it should surely be a standard feature of hospitality.

The boffins are now telling us that the healthiest place to be, when any virus is still in the air, is out of doors. Prof. Edward Lynch of West Cork has been saying, for ages, that ventilation is a major tool in anti-coronavirus measures. Fresh air blows away the little aerosols of the virus.

Interestingly, fresh air was also a condition of treating TB in times gone – sanatoriums had open-air wards.

So prayers for good weather to be invoked? The English (and somewhat waspish) Catholic novelist Evelyn Waugh always prayed to St Clare for fine days. Why St Clare should be the patron of clement weather isn’t quite clear: perhaps because the Poor Clares were originally a mendicant order and perforce spent much of the time in the open; or perhaps because of the connection with St Francis, and his embrace of nature. In any case, Evelyn Waugh claimed St Clare never let him down. So, here’s hoping!