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(http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/elton-john-older-father/elton-john/)When it was announced Elton John had become a father at 62 on Christmas day, I shot back in time to being 12 years old, the year his magnum opus, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, was released.
Just like then, I knew that—once again—Elton had created a new historical reality for a bemused public to ponder.
But—unlike any sexagenarian female becoming mother through surrogacy—he made later life fatherhood (http://news NULL.yahoo NULL.com/s/nm/us_eltonjohn) in a same-sex marriage look cool.
But how? Why?
The answer lies in Elton John’s historical journey in the public eye and in the very bedrock of our patriarchal society.
Back in 1973 I was, for the first time, being turned on to something bigger than Burt Bacharach (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Raindrops_Keep_Fallin%27_on_My_Head) and the so-called raindrops that kept falling on his head.
It was before I had tuned in to the more teenage-chic rock-operas of Queen, Supertramp or Pink Floyd.
Elton John was, somehow, more personal in his musical approach.
Oddly inherent in his modus operandi was a brush stroke of the intimacy in any traditional München beer hall sing-a-long. (I’ll bet he’d die rather than make such an admission.)
You could say that, Elton John—with his theatrical costumes bordering on the ridiculous during the 1980’s—invented lederhosen (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Lederhosen) cool.
And it all started with the “thin end of the wedge.” The easy stuff. The kind of cool kids could get hooked on overnight.
In the sepia-toned archives of my youth, he defined what was cool (Bennie, she’s really keen) and what was not (you can’t keep me in your penthouse).
So much of what he and Bernie created hinted at the dark underbelly of the human psyche, without ever quite painting a turgid picture. So much was left to the innocence of your tender imagination.
For the ensuring decades, Elton was the coolest of the cool. For everyone. The songs he performed became the hallmarks of adolescence all over the world.
Everything he touched turned to gold or platinum. On stage he was the trickster. In performance he was the Pied Piper. In life, he became the silent rebel.
When his farcical heterosexual marriage to Renate Blauel (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Elton_John#Personal_life) in 1984 failed dismally to hide the truth, he brave-faced it and openly embraced his gay partner, David Furnish in the 1990’s.
He transformed Candle In the Wind (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=QdVLClrfrOk) (Goodbye England’s Rose) into an international dirge, performing to an estimated 2.5 billion (http://www NULL.songfacts NULL.com/detail NULL.php?id=1313) people when Diana died in 1997.
Then, in 1998, he was knighted (http://www NULL.eltonjohn NULL.com/about/bio NULL.jsp) by Queen Elizabeth II. Does it get any cooler than that?
It’s the kind of cool, it seems, that exempts Elton John from the sort of media and public vilification that older mothers receive.
According to FPM Over-40 Mom Squad member, Jan Andersen, who is based in the UK: “When the latest news about Elton John becoming a father at 62 was broadcast, the consensus of opinion appeared to be extremely positive.”
Yet, earlier this year when it was announced that one of Elton John’s British countrywomen—59-year-old retired school teacher Susan Tollefsen—was to receive IVF by a London clinic, British politicians and public were outraged.
In the mainstream press, the decision was characterized as “a defiance of nature” and “an abuse of medical skill”.
But it looks as though what’s not cool for the aging goose, is cool for the old gander.
“Generally, when a story about a mum in her 60’s hits the headlines”, says Andersen, also founder of MothersOver40 (http://www NULL.mothersover40 NULL.com/), “I am inundated with radio interview requests because the older mother issue attracts controversy”.
But, when the press announced John had become a father in his sixties, just days ago, Andersen’s phone remained curiously silent.
“Again,” she says, “it appears that older mums are berated and older dads are congratulated.”
“What is the difference, I ask—particularly considering the biological fact that women tend to live longer than men?”
Sadly, as we all know, the double standard continues to be upheld by the world’s finest role models.
The rarified realm of celebrity is awash with sexa-, septua-, and octagenerian dads birthing brat-packs, but—you have to admit—when it came to fatherhood, Elton John laid on a performance worthy of Las Vegas.
An aging, gay, same-sex married celebrity, fathers a child through surrogacy. And not a “boo!” in the house. No one’s calling him “Grandpa.”
“As I read the news about Elton John and his spouse David Furnish becoming fathers through surrogacy, I smiled,” says FPM Over-40 Mom Squad expert and founder of Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED), (http://www NULL.pved NULL.org/) Marna Gatlin.
“You might remember in 2009, Elton John was denied adoption to 14-month-old HIV-positive child from Ukraine because he was 62, unmarried, and the Ukraine doesn’t recognize same sex marriages,” she continues.
Gatlin reports that PVED supports John and Furnish in selecting surrogacy.
“This is exactly why it’s incredibly important that intended parents like Elton and David have options and choices in regards to their family building,” she says.
Why the world does not apply Gatlin’s attitude to all “intended parents,” older mothers included, is a question exposing what is not cool about our social conscience.
And, frankly, the answer to it leaves me cold.
Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) (www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40.
Please write all comments at the end of each blog. To email me personally with a story idea: editor[at]flowerpowermom.com (Replace “at” with @)
Mothers Over 40
http://www.mothersover40.com (http://www NULL.mothersover40 NULL.com/)
Parents Via Egg Donation
http://www.pved.org (http://www NULL.pved NULL.org/)
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