December 15, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 50
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Saturday, Jan 23, 2021



Grandpa Dick, Welcome to the Revolution
Grandpa Dick, Welcome to the Revolution
by Debra Chasnoff - Special to the SGN

When I heard the news this week that Vice President Cheney's daughter Mary and her partner were expecting a baby, I thought, "Wow. It's finally happened." A true revolution within our lifetime. Actually, in less than 25 years.

In 1984, I made my first film, a documentary that explored the then extremely radical and unheard of idea that Lesbians could have children. Fellow producer, Kim Klausner, and I traveled across the country unearthing a handful of Lesbians who had boldly decided to become mothers.

Before that time, if you were a "Lesbian mother" it meant you had been involved with a man, had kids and then came out of the closet.

But we were interested in, what was then, the tiny spark of a new idea -- that being Gay didn't have to mean, by definition, that you couldn't be a parent.

The six pioneering families we captured on film had brought children into their lives through foster parenting, adoption, donor insemination, and, for one, "the old-fashioned way."

When Choosing Children was released, Kim and I toured the country hosting benefit screenings for the small number of organizations that had just started to emerge to offer support to Lesbian and Gay-headed families.

Hundreds of women (and a few men) would pack these events, which turned out to be life changing for many. Women who, up until seeing the film, had believed that they would never be able to have children, left the theaters inspired and determined to create and define "family" for themselves in new ways.

Scores of media outlets wrote about Choosing Children as well, reaching countless other Gay and Lesbian potential parents-to-be. In the next few years, the Lesbian baby boom exploded and the old assumption that coming out meant you could never have kids were forever shattered.

I knew we had helped launch a profound culture shift, but I have to confess, that in my wildest dreams, I never imagined there would come a day when Choosing Children might be of interest to the White House -- not only of interest, but a political and personal necessity. But, now, thanks to Mary and Heather, I'm dusting off a copy and sending it to the Cheney family today. I hope they show it to George.

When they watch it, they might begin to understand that, today, the daughter of an ultra-conservative leader of the United States is able to create and define family however she wants, thanks to the more than two decades of pioneering activism that paved the way.

So, congratulations Mary, Heather, Grandpa Dick and Grandma Lynne. Enjoy the movie. And, hey, welcome to our revolution. Maybe now you'll finally get with the program.

Debra Chasnoff is an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker whose two "chosen" children are now 12 and 18. Her work is available at

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