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Brian Elrick, host of Strictly Inverness, discusses the adoption process for LGBTQ+ parents, battling outside perceptions and why going on holiday may not be as simple as it seems

By Andrew Henderson

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Pride month is an opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community to highlight challenges they still face, but also reflect on the progress that has been made.

It was only a few decades ago that gay people were labelled as unfit parents and threats to children – attitudes that have been left in the past for the most part.

That means that most of the time, someone like Brian Elrick is able to live an open and happy life with his husband and two daughters in London.

The days of sheepishly talking about his partner Andrew and daughters Mollie and Isla, or worrying about how other people would react, are generally long gone.

Brian Elrick has a strong family unit with husband Andrew and daughters Isla and Mollie.
Brian Elrick has a strong family unit with husband Andrew and daughters Isla and Mollie.

There are occasions, though, where the Strictly Inverness host still becomes cautious about being an openly queer family unit.

Something as simple as planning a holiday comes with extra complications – and can even lead to a significantly different approach in how he acts compared to other parents.

"We used to find that people would always ask where's the mum, or who's the dad – we both are," Elrick said.

"We started getting really defensive at one point, and we felt like screaming something really inappropriate.

"Some people are horrified, and some people are amazing. Probably the first time we felt really validated was when someone in Tesco just got it – it was the first time we didn't feel judged.

"Now, we're fully relaxed, but when we go abroad we go back to worrying about what everyone else will be thinking. That's the one time we revert back, depending on where we're going.

"There are people there from all different communities and nations, so we go back to 'don't ask us' as a protection measure. It's only this year we've decided to get a grip of ourselves and be open books.

"My parents used to live in Dubai, and we were petrified. We went there when Mollie was two, and we walked through separately.

"Mollie's got a double-barrelled surname, and she walked through with my other half and I was 20 people behind.

"We just thought there was no way we were putting ourselves in a position to highlight we were gay and have a baby."

In itself, being a gay couple with a baby was a rare position to be in at one point. It was only in 2002 that same-sex couples were given the right to adopt, and for a long time afterwards it remained a difficult process for gay couples to go through.

Elrick knows first-hand that sometimes you had to go to the right place at the right time to make progress, but he believes the situation has improved since he went through it.

"We adopted Mollie in 2010, and we were only one of two gay couples who adopted that year, so that was its own journey to mainstream acceptance," he reasoned.

"We definitely went to a few different councils initially in London, and there were certain times we knew they would find any excuse not to work with us.

"Someone has got to look like they are willing to make the change for others to follow.

"We only found out a few months later how few gay couples adopted. It was crazy.

"We were gay guys who adopted a girl as well, and that was really against the norm. It was pretty crazy to find out the statistics of that, but it is what it is.

"Now we know other gay couples who have had children through adoption and surrogacy, so adoption for LGBTQ+ couples has really moved on.

"I would be intrigued to see how accepting it is once you get out of London, but it's definitely far more common and accessible now.

"It seems to be happening more and more, so it's great to see the progression on that side of things as well.

"All these kids need is time and love, nothing else should matter. If you can offer that stability, it shouldn't matter what background you come from."

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