by Megan Smith
Let’s face it—the nuclear family is no longer the norm, and that’s not a bad thing. Healthy children are being raised in all types of families nowadays—by grandparents, by single mothers, by adoptive families, and by same-sex parents. The latter applies to Roman and Nyro, twin boys featured in director Heather Winters’ (executive producer of Supersize Me) documentary Two: The Story of Roman & Nyro.
Living in Nashville, these pre-teen twins are being raised in what they call a “two-dad” family—a family that they see as no different than any other. Their parents, legendary songwriter Desmond Child (Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” and Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ la Vida Loca,” among others) and his partner, Curtis Shaw, have been together for 22 years. Becoming a family, however, was quite the journey.
Two uses footage from over 12 years to tell the story of this modern family—preconception through the first decade of Roman and Nyro’s lives. For years, Child and Shaw discussed having a child, but it wasn’t until the pair met free-spirit Angela Whittaker during a Deepak Chopra spiritual retreat in India that their plan was set into action. Although initially hesitant, Whittaker reveals that once she saw herself carrying Child and Shaw’s baby in a dream, she decided to go ahead and act as the couple’s surrogate. The spirituality learned by all three during their time in India is a reoccurring theme throughout the film.
The documentary then follows Child, Shaw, and Whittaker throughout the pregnancy process, including finding out that their family will not just be adding a plus one, but a plus two. Beyond humanizing the issue of gay marriage and how it affects same-sex parents, the film touches on other problems that gay couples encounter when expanding their families—such as not having a place for both parents’ names on their child’s birth certificate, and various adoption complications. As the pair says in the film, a gay couple having children in the first place is a visible form of activism.
A particularly touching moment comes during an interview with Shaw’s mother, when she discusses her son’s coming-out process. A staunch Christian, she admits his being gay was difficult for her to understand. But with tears in her eyes, she says that she knows that her son has lived an exemplary life, and has no doubts about his well-being in the afterlife.
Whittaker’s journey during her pregnancy adds an extra level of emotional depth to the film—one that I wish was explored more. We see glimpses of the internal battle she experiences while trying to determine her role in the twins’ lives as a surrogate; she’s not simply a vessel, but not a mother figure either. We also see how the surrogacy affects Whittaker’s mother, who initially does not understand her daughter’s decision and sees the situation as giving away “her grandchildren.”
The film’s flashbacks feel raw, as if looking at a family photo album, but set a pleasant, familiar tone that further normalizes the story being told. As the documentary goes on, it becomes blatantly obvious just how much love surrounds Roman and Nyro—they have two dads, grandparents, godparents (which includes godfather Bon Jovi), and too many friends to count. And no matter what, that love is what prevails. As the twins say in the film, “It doesn’t matter if the government doesn’t like us, because we like us.”
This is the second release as part of the new “Morgan Spurlock Presents” label and is available from Virgil Films & Entertainment (virgilfilmsent.com).