In 2015, a touching photo of a Toronto couple holding their newborn went viral. BJ Barone, Frankie Nelson and their son Milo were photographed by Lindsay Foster, a friend of Milo’s surrogate mom.
“That image has probably been seen in every country,” Foster says of the image.
However, not all the attention has been good. Politicians in Ireland and Italy have used the photograph in crusades opposing same-sex parenthood and surrogacy.
Barone says, “My cousin in Italy had messaged me and said that we were just being talked about on the TV and they were showing our picture again.”
The conservative Italian Fratelli d’Italia-Alleanza Nazionale party and its youth wing used the photo without permission in their campaign against gay parents.
That was only two week ago, and last week, the independent Irish politician Mary Fitzgibbon was discovered to be using the photo in advance of Ireland’s Feb. 26 general election.
Fitzgibbon opposes surrogacy for gay parents.
Barone said, “It was mostly about gay couples, men, having babies, because we’re [supposedly] denying the right of the child to have a mother.”
“Everything that we had stood for and we were fighting for… gay rights and rights for fathers to have children, now these photos are being used for the exact opposite.”
Foster said she posted the watermarked images on her Facebook page in 2014.
She thinks it’s unfair that Fitzgibbon used the photo, telling Fitzgibbon via Twitter that Milo has “more than enough love,” even without a mother.
“I invited Mary over,” Barone says. “I said, ‘You know what? We’re more than happy for you to come here to Toronto so you can meet our family and see that… a child does not need to have a mother and a father.’”
Nelson would like their critics to come over to their home and meet Milo.
“He’s one of the happiest little boys you’ll ever meet,” he said. “I can’t see how he’s missing out on anything.”
The dads are trying to look at the positive side of the scenario.
“Hopefully it will bring awareness around surrogacy and same-sex couples,” Barone said. “And a lot of people, they’re still uneducated, right? So I think it’s a good opportunity for us to show the world that family is family.”
h/t: The Star