Friday, December 28, 2007

Being a Family at the Beach

We escaped Carrboro for Emerald Isle! It hit 70 degrees today, and is to do the same tomorrow. We are staying at our friends' beach house, and were treated to a magnificent sunset: the red-fuchsia ball of sun descended slowly from the tip of clouds overhead to the horizon below, the trail being left on the edge of the water lapping upon the shore. I ran for a good forty minutes, while Dean and Parker ran to the pier.

Sometimes, we find family time in the heart of vacation time. We celebrate being family on vacations!

2008 comes quickly...

Peace, Brett

Thursday, December 27, 2007

From Tolerance to Respect

One of the banners, and key virtues, hung at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Y is: "Respect." Respect is different than tolerance. Tolerance is a permissive attitude that a difference of opinion is O.K. Respect is esteem for the worth or excellence of another person. In terms of being a gay dad, what I desire for people to practice is the "virtue" of respect rather than mere tolerance. One's being gay is not a choice, but who I am and we, who are self-identifying as LGBT, are. However, the other person we are in relationship with--family members, co-workers, associates, acquaintances--will have to make a decision: tolerance or respect? I prefer respect.

Nevertheless, there is an important essay in this morning's edition of, in which a young gay man came out to his brother and mother. They both were horrified at this "news," and promised neither to practice tolerance nor respect. Rather, they chose to harangue the young man's very life, using the language of the church to be a cudgel in bludgeoning the young man. It is articles like this that does not make being a gay dad easy, but being out necessary.

Click here to the blog.

Peace...and respect,


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

ON BEING A GAY PARENT in Charlotte's Creative Loafing

Charlotte's Creative Loafing caught me reading from ON BEING A GAY PARENT on December 19, 2008. We had a wonderful evening, and again, a big "Thank You" to the folks at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center for your warm welcome. Click here.

Hope everyone who reads this has had either a wonderful Chanukah or will enjoy thoroughly the season of Christmas...all 12 days of it.

Peace, Brett

Friday, December 21, 2007

"I Have Two Fathers": A Fantastic You Tube From Germany

Dean was sent this wonderful "Youtube" video from Germany, in which Terrence sings of the joys of having two fathers, Bas and Detterick..."who can be great mothers too." Young Terrence sings about how his dads take care of him when he is sick, kiss him good night after the homework is done, can be strict and kind--when it is appropriate--while also getting Terrence to see that bullying is the problem that the other young person has in accepting the reality of our day and age: some children have two fathers, and some two mothers!

What a glorious song to sing and hear as a gay dad! Enjoy this tribute to two fathers!



Thursday, December 20, 2007

Charlotte, NC Book Reading: How About Uruguay?

Last night I read and signed books at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Charlotte, NC. We had a great group of around 12 people, including Angus, a wonderful photographer/reporter from Creative Loafing, the creative weekly newspaper in Charlotte (Thanks, Angus!). Many thanks to my friend John for setting up this lovely affair; and to Mike and the folks at the Center who hosted the reading/signing.

One of the questions that came up had to do with marriage, and why we, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered people, want it. In light of my children's constant act of describing my relationship with Dean, it would be easier for one and all to be able to describe "it" and what we live for what "it" is in everything but name only (so far): a marriage. Until we are allowed to marry, we will not call one another "husband," but use all the other synonyms we've had to adopt, usually partner...thus sounding like a law firm (there's nothing wrong with that...but for a serious relationship? Come one!)

What is frustrating, given the way this country and society likes to tout itself as a leader in so many areas of life, progressive (to say the least), is when I recently read that Uruguay's Congress recently passed legislation for civil union (see link). When so many other countries are moving to at least condone and bless civil unions, if not outright marriage, of LGBT folk, why can't we simply "move with the times?" What harm does our being in a civil union or being married do to the greater society, except bring us a little more sanity and far less agitation?  With marriage, at least, my children will know what to call Dean and me: "Dad and Step-Dad!" though being a gay nanny is quite fun for Dean.

As my "partner" would say, "One step at a time": It is time to take the next step, America!

Peace, Brett

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Archbishop Rowan Williams' Confusion

In the latest news from the offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury, we read that at an upcoming meeting of bishops in the Anglican communion, neither Bishop Gene Robinson nor "Bishop" Minns are invited (go to link ).  Why?  Well, because of the politics of the Anglican communion right now.

What Archbishop Williams' actions do is confuse and sadden our families, gay and straight alike.  I know that my children are affected by the talk and action that make me, the parent, an outsider to the greater life of the institutional Church because I am gay.  

Archbishop Williams' actions are also not in line with the "former" Bishop Williams, who was more affirming of gays and lesbians in the Church.  Being prophetic does come at a cost...but doesn't God also send us prophets to direct us on our earthly pilgrimage?

Clearly, we are reminded, in this season of Advent, of prophets like old John the Baptist, who never made a lot of money, but what a life he led in heralding the coming of the Christ, who is currently, right now, at this very moment, without stop, making a new heaven and new earth!

Dear God: Make us prophets!  And if we are hard to make into prophets, send us prophets!

Peace, Brett

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"I'm Popeye the Sailor Man"--NOT! Parker's Friend Defends Parker's Dad!

A little bit more on the drama of harassment in my son's high school, and hopefully the last episode, at least for awhile.

Now, Parker's mom, Dean, and I have taught our children the importance of the virtues of self-control and the habit of non-violence. It would not be true to say we are always the paragons of these virtues and habits, but we try the best we can, most days of the week, sometimes...enough conditioners. Parker was being picked on by some young man after P.E. class one day last week, when the young man said that being gay "runs in the family," inferring that Parker is gay. After Parker said that he's not gay, one of Parker's friends spoke up for Parker and said, "Besides, I know and have seen Parker's dad, and he could break you in half," he said to the young harasser. End of harassment!

I'm off to the Y to work out! Drank my protein powder this morning, humming, "I'm Popeye the sailor man." My "muskles" are bigger than ever (thanks to Noriko, my friend and personal trainer).

Peace, Brett

Ah, Charlotte: the Queen (Literally, Figuratively, and REALLY Literally City of Queens) City!

A big thank you to folks at Gay Charlotte and Creative Loafing weekly periodical, and other media outlets in Charlotte, NC, who are publicizing the reading of the book, ON BEING A GAY PARENT: MAKING A FUTURE TOGETHER. This is the second stop on the national tour--or pilgrimage--of the book!

See the p.r. on these links for Gay Charlotte and Creative Loafing

I'll be at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, 7:00 P.M. Thanks go to the folks at these wonderfully supportive publications, and my friend John Leonard who helped me make this event happen!



The Pilgrimage of the Gay Parent Book Begins NOW!

I am writing this post in Oregon, staying with my folks while getting ready for two readings in the Portland area on Friday, December 14th, hosted by a group of Presbyterians connected with More Light Presbyterians and other area churches, at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 7:30 P.M., in Beaverton, OR and bringing children! Then, at 3:00 P.M., on Sat., December 15th, a gathering of gay dads and children at the Q-Center in Portland!

What is exciting is that this is the first foray outside of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Pittsboro area with the book, and it shows the national interest that this book is getting. Why is it getting this interest? Because the dots are connected positively: being gay, being a parent, and being a Christian are ALL good parts of our lives!

For those in Oregon reading this, I look forward to meeting you! For those not here in the area and reading this, your prayers are welcome!



Monday, December 10, 2007

Breaking Up: An American Protestant Habit

This past Saturday, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in California voted to separate from the USA Episcopal Church, and place itself under the authority of a bishop in South America. Why? Because of the ordination of women and the issue of ordination (and acceptance?) of those of us who are gay or lesbian.

While this separation is sad for all involved, it is an event that is happening in many denominations in the American Protestant mainline churches. For example, I was reading of the Presbyterian churches that are becoming part of a group called "New Wineskins," also because of the slow but steady acceptance of those of us who are gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender in the denomination. Of course, as we can find from looking at the history of the Church, the American Protestant church has a habit of dividing and separating over many different issues and reasons. As one former colleague of mine at Duke Divinity School used to remind us, if you want to find out how to separate in a denomination, just watch the Baptists!

Amid the news of the separation in another denomination, it is awkward for our families. For those of us who are part of the LGBT community, it reinforces the question: "Why does someone want to stay part of a club in which you are treated as a second class citizen?" For our children, the question raised is simply this: why doesn't a church like my mom or dad? Because they're gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender?

Lessons abound for all of us in the midst of change that is happening around us as people who are part of the LGBTQ community are more and more a part of contemporary American life. Some day, sooner or later, even some churches will get the point as the Spirit of God blows a wind of change in our collective hearts, minds, and bodies.

Peace, Brett

Friday, December 7, 2007

DG Martin and Brett Webb-Mitchell on WCHL, December 10, 2007, 6 P.M.

I had a great conversation with radio and TV local personality DG Martin.  DG and I talked about the book ON BEING A GAY PARENT, and covered a great deal of turf in 40 minutes.  We talked about why this book had to be written (because there is no other book of its kind in bookstores or libraries that is pro-gay, pro-Christian, and pro-family); the coming out process (first to yourselves and then to all others); the sliding Kinsey scale of sex and sexual orientation (it slides); biblical texts (read either as THE Word of God, or as witness to THE Word of God, Jesus Christ); and the politics of the mainline Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic in relationship to the LGBT community.  Finally, DG even brought in the School of the Pilgrim!

Catch it on Monday, Dec. 10th, 2007, at 6 P.M., or on-line: WCHL

Peace, Brett 

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Congress and the Dying of the Matthew Shepherd Bill

The U.S. Senate failed to support the hate crime bill that would cover those of us in the LGBT community:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress has dropped legislation that would have expanded hate crime laws to include attacks on gays after it became clear the measure wouldn't pass the House, aides said Thursday (CNN).

This bill was the "Matthew Shepherd Bill," named after the young college student who was killed in Wyoming because he was gay.  

The reason for its defeat?  The New York Times reported this morning that it was tied to a Pentagon appropriation bill, which would have been ultimately vetoed by President Bush.

Hate, prejudice, bias, anger based upon fear: any of these very human characteristics focused upon any human being for whatever reason is an injustice; it is wrong.  Having felt the sting of hate, fear, and ignorance in my son's experience in his high school reminds me that hate and discrimination against those of us who are LGBT isn't to be visited upon us alone, but our children and extended family as well.  

A sad day for us all in this country.

Courage and forbearance are called upon this day to make the Matthew Shepherd Bill the law of the land!

Peace, Brett

Better Days Are Here Again!

My son Parker and I finally talked about the harassment he was receiving in high school on Monday night. The silence up to Monday since last Wednesday was painfully awkward. On Monday morning, on their drive into school, Parker let Dean know that he wasn't mad at Dean primarily, but mad at me. There was a softening or weakening of the hard brick wall he had built around himself, removing one brick at a time. While we told him he did not need to be the victim of abuse as we will not be victims of the harassment we face as men who are gay and living in relationship with one another--and that we cannot control the perceptions that others have of us, but the problem of us being gay or part of a gay household is clearly the other person's problem--it took awhile for these words to soak into his soul, body, and mind.

In the aisle that carries salsa and other "international foods" (the name cracks me up, as if all food wasn't, at one time, international), he asked if he could have "unlimited text messages" for his new cell phone (a birthday gift). I said, "Well, the attitude may need to be tweaked first, because you've been slinging some attitude at me for about a week." And then it the loosening of more bricks began: "Well, imagine what it would be like if everyone in school knew your business, knew your family, knew your name!" I reminded him that I asked he and his sister if I could put their names in the book, or use a pseudonym, and they both said "their names," to which he responded, "Well, I don't remember that conversation." I also said that I wasn't putting their name in the most recent articles, though there just aren't too many "Webb-Mitchells" in this world, in which it isn't too hard for some people to put our names together and figure out he is my son, and that his dad is gay.


And that was all it took. Once that last brick was un-lodged, he joked and kidded me as we bought some ground turkey meat for tacos, some soft tortillas (a Monday night ritual), and made our way to the check-out line. "And did I tell you that I may need new shoes soon?" he said with a smile on his lips.

That evening, Parker the jokester was back, making fun of his gay dads, playing with the dogs as they leaped high to catch the Lacrosse ball from his stick, which he was playing with in the smallish kitchen. I was waiting to see if the hard small ball would crash into something in the kitchen.

While we created a buffer around Parker to vent and feel protected to experience his hurt of being called names in high school (an act of bullying), it can take days to break through a wall of defense. But, given time and reminding him he is loved seems to be a winning strategy.

Better days are here again!

Peace, Brett

Friday, November 30, 2007

Media Day

My partner Dean has more than once called me a "Media Slut," and I lived up to that name today.  First thing this morning: News and Observer (based in Raleigh but distributed throughout the state of NC), in the Faith section, "Gay, Christian, and a Parent," by Yonat Shimron, (, go to Religion section).  And I was the second segment on The State of Things on WUNC (, go to archives for Nov. 30, 2007), our NPR station.


Feel free to get on the websites...and enjoy!

Peace, Brett

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On Being the Son of a Gay Dad

"You never had a gay dad!"  said my son Parker.  And he's right: I did not have a dad who self-identified as being "straight" as I have self-identified as a gay dad.  Parker and I are growing up in different households, and I'm not sure what it looks or feels like from his perspective as a straight child.

Reality came crashing into our lives on Wednesday: in the News and Observer, in the Life, Etc., section, there was a publicity "blurb" about my talk at McIntyre's Bookstore in nearby Pittsboro.  Either a young friend of Parker's or this young friend's parents read about the book reading and signing, and Parker's friend went to his high school and made fun of Parker for having a gay dad.  While Parker did what we taught him to do--walk away from this kind of harassment--nonetheless, the words hurt.  We have taught Parker that he does not have to be a victim of this abuse, nor does he need to be mad at us for living honestly and openly: the person with the problem is not Parker, and it isn't our family, but the child who harassed Parker.  

We have alerted the Principal of Parker's high school that he was harassed, and we are slowly getting the details of what happened.  And Parker told his mom that it happened on Thursday as well.  "Stay tuned" is all I can say.

Nonetheless, for all the ways we claim to being "progressive people" in the liberal bastion of Chapel Hill-Carrboro, this is an over-generalization: bigotry against LGBT people is alive and well in our little part of the world, and we are on a course of always teaching people not tolerance, but respect for the differences that make us the unique people we are in this world.
But this is easy to say and write, and harder to live!



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reading Aloud to Our Children

What every parent, guardian, grand-parent, foster parent, relative, friend (you get the idea) is told to do when our children are young is to read to our children...a lot!

What is fun is reading to our children when they are older, especially when it is from your very own book!

Here's the scenario: Dean and I picked up Adrianne from college yesterday, and we all woke up late this morning. Having shown Adrianne the publicity around the book, ON BEING A GAY PARENT, she was eager to see it in print. What was fun this morning was reading portions of the book with her story in it. It was a keen test of the writer as well, because she could tell if the stories were close to being the real "McCoy," or if I had gotten her voice and story wrong. After reading various passages of the book, she gave me the "O.K." that I was waiting to hear: "That's pretty good! How young was I when I said all that?" And we talked about her life story with two gay "dads."

On another note: our area's "Village Voice," known as the Independent Weekly, highlighted the book in its "Eight Days a Week" pages, highlighting the reading/signing at McIntyre's Fine Books this coming Tuesday, Nov. 27th. It was also highlighted as an "Indy Pick" among the many lectures and book readings in the area in the coming week! Go to the link:
Independent Weekly
Independent Weekly: Content Page

We look forward to having Valencian Paella tomorrow for Thanksgiving as a family!

Peace, Brett

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Reading at Border's in Apex, NC

Our friend Julia made tonight's reading and signing at Borders Bookstore in Apex, NC possible. While there was a small gathering of listeners, they were incredible, shall we say, "coincidences": one of the people who attended was Judy, a mom who attended a church in which I was the founding pastor in Cary, NC. She knew my former wife, knows my children, and met Dean tonight. Judy came to the store because of the poster that Julia put on the Borders Store window. The other person was Linda, who recently had a documentary she had filmed, following one of the cases by Sr. Helen Prejean pursued. Linda and I talked about the possibility of doing a sort-of Discovery Channel/Travel Channel series on pilgrimage!

And we met Peter tonight: Peter is a father of three who is trying to blend more "equally" the feminine and masculine side of his personality: he wore a leather jacket and a skirt. We had a fascinating conversation with him. While not a cross-dresser per se, nor transgender, he was exploring the various sides of his gender, which he understood as "male," but was interested in pursuing a "tom boy" feminine side he relates to as well.

Miracles abound!

Peace, Brett

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Feel the love!

My son Parker was sick today. He complained about a sore throat yesterday, and this morning it was still bothering him, with an early CRASH to bed.

What was amazing is this: Parker was surrounded by three adults who were watching him throughout the day, even though we were all at work in our various jobs. His mom was teaching, but calling in often; Dean was engaged in a protest at work (the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill usually has a civil protest in the Pit at 12 noon/around lunch); and I was in Raleigh, calling in. Throughout the day, we probably kept Parker up and away from sleep by calling him, asking if he needed anything, when what he needed was sleep, along with plenty of fluids.

We have all come to appreciate the wider circle of love that our "family" offers him, and each of us, each and every day of life.

Ain't love grand?

Peace, Brett

p.s. On Friday afternoon, we dashed into the doctor's office to find out what the lingering sore throat was all about: :Parker had strep! Penicillin was the cure! All is on the mend.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gay Parenting in the States, and the Threat of Being Gay or Lesbian in Other Parts of the World

While I am advocating gay- and lesbian-parenting on this blog, in a society where some people are challenged by this very notion, I realize that I also live in a world in which simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, are grounds for death. Iranian Parliament member Mohsen Yahyavi told the British press in May 2007 that "Homosexuals should be executed...they spread diseases. It is a severe crime that is against the laws of nature" (Ynet News Service, Nov. 13, 2007).

This is what we must also teach our children in our families: that we live in a world in which people are killed simply for being who they are created to be. And we must teach them that the work of acceptance for and of all people, amid the brilliant diversity of ways we were created to be in this world, is not to be simply tolerated, but respected, in all societies and cultures.




A Toast to the The Amazing Racers!

Early on in my "coming out to the children" phase, Dean and I "kind of" surrounded Parker and Adrianne with all kinds of images of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender images and impressions from the world's so-called "modern media outlets," a.k.a., "main stream media" or MSM. We watched and laughed through many episodes of "Will and Grace" in the evening; we watched "In and Out," rooting for Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck as they kissed; laughed, sang, and cried through parts of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," to critiquing this season's new gay couple on "Desperate Housewives," and the transgender lover in ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money." Today, the children, now young adults and teenagers, can pick up on what is a campy stereotype to a sincere portrayal of life lived largely by those who are LGBT.

With Parker watching with one eye while "working" on the computer, we watched CBS on Sunday night, in which the latest couple on "The Amazing Race!" the Episcopalian Reverends Kate Lewis and Pat Hendrikson were told by Phil, the emcee, that they have been eliminated from the race in Amsterdam! They were the first lesbian couple on "The Amazing Race!" in its 12th season. And they were an "out" Christian couple! With all my writing and experiences of pilgrimage, this is where my vocation as teacher-pilgrim and being a gay dad cross: I enjoy the antics of this show as they run too quickly through foreign lands, especially watching the gay or lesbian people on this show! As has become customary on this show, like "Real World" on MTV, there seems to be either an obviously lesbian or gay person or couple (along with some interesting closet-cases, which my children and I figure out rather quickly). On this episode of "The Amazing Race," the couple who came in last were an amazing (in my judgment) couple who were both ministers and lesbians in a long term healthy, prayer-based relationship! Among all the couples on this season, they seemed to be, well, the most "normal" in terms of the lack of drama or becoming hysterically unglued at the slightest obstacle [read heterosexual couples...they can be such drama-queens:-)]. The couple took their loss in stride, saying that they would've liked to stayed a little longer on the journey since they had only just begun, pointed out where they should've chosen a different task (sorting out bicycles?) but they had also said they had already had great experiences to tell others about when they got home to Thousand Oaks, California. And their Episcopal bishop was behind them 100%, giving them permission to be on a race in which they were simply amazing!

So here's a toast (as I raise my coffee cup full of French Roast coffee this morning) to the most normal and less self-absorbed, Christian couple on "The Amazing Race" this season! To you other heterosexuals: this couple has set the bar for maturity in this wonderful race!

And check out their story on this link:
As we said on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compestela, "Bien Camino!" or good journey!

Peace, Brett

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Word is Out: ON BEING A GAY PARENT is a first of its kind!

As anyone who reads this blogspot knows, ON BEING A GAY PARENT was delivered to my house on Nov. 1st! The book is now in bookstores near you!

And the reviews have started to come in! And the reviews are positive! Good! And sometimes "Very good!"

Surprisingly, I have come to understand that this book is one of the first--if not the first book--of its kind: an explicitly Christian book/perspective on gay- and lesbian-parenting! While other books may discuss "faith," "love," and "religion," along with the word "church" or "synagogue," and perhaps "mosque," this is the first book that embraces Christianity not as the antagonist or the Church as the "evil empire," (apologies to Ronald Reagan-fans), but as the very basis of who I, the author, am as a person, which shapes how I understand family, parenting, children, etc. While Dan Savage claims a background that was shaped by his Irish Catholic heritage, he does not write out of that context per se in their parenting. And while Andrew Sullivan is unapologetically a Christian shaped by his Catholic heritage, he is not a parent. In academic circles, theologians James Allison and Gene Rogers do not write about families. Among other Christian "activists," Mel White and Gene Robinson talk about their families, but their books are not on parenting or family-issues per se.

So enjoy these websites/blogspots: Families Joined by Love

Also check out a wonderful blog posting by my friend Mark Kleinschmidt.

Finally, a big thanks to Michael Adee and More Light Presbyterians for their support.


Peace, Brett

Saturday, November 10, 2007

First Reading of ON BEING A GAY PARENT

The Borders Bookstore in Chapel Hill was crowded with customers on this cloudy day. Many Carolina fans were watching the football against North Carolina State University (Carolina lost), while others were out shopping. In the middle of the cavernous store, near the Information/Customer Service center were several chairs set before a long table, with 25 copies of ON BEING A GAY PARENT prominently displayed. It was exciting to see so many copies of the book!

With a few friends in the audience (thank you all for coming), I began reading from the book, starting with the declaration, "This is not the book I thought I would ever write," and discussed the major topics of the book on being a gay parent, setting up the audience's expectation of what they would hear. Here was the curious thing: As I read from the book, I noticed that those in the audience were not the only ones listening to the stories I read: some people kept circling around the arranged chairs, listening carefully to what I read, while others "looked at books" at nearby shelves for over 30 minutes as I read aloud, leaning in when my voice dropped as I emphasized a point in the reading. A few people "winced" as I said "gay and lesbian," uncomfortable with the words. And after the readings and the time for questions, I watched as some people surreptitiously picked up a copy or two of the book after I finished autographing them.

When I was in the closet--or should I say closets--I was one of those who would "drop in" and listen quietly for my story to be read by someone else, hopeful yet knowing I was not the only "freak" the only "gay man" in the world. I wanted someone to tell me my story was all right, and that life was going to be O.K. as a gay man with children, even though I was hiding in a marriage. I wanted to absorb, but not get too close to, the truth of my life and who I was, and who God created me to be. And it was those other men and women, who I was once-hiding with in our circle of fear, that I watched hovering around the edges of the reading chairs yesterday. To look, glance, or engage their attention would make them run away. To invite to them to sit in a chair and rest their weary, exhausted bones, would have been too much, too soon. And so they quietly, easily, nonchalantly, hovered nearby, listening in, dropping by, desperate to hear their stories read, be validated, and thus giving them pause about what it would mean to live authentically and genuinely. "What happened if I did come out?" was never far from their mind.

The book tour is off and running! My story, and the stories of others gay and lesbian parents are now being read, in public, for free (unless you want to buy a book, but the price is good and the author will sign almost anything), for all to see, hear, and absorb.

As they say in the South, "Y'all come!"

Peace, Brett

Friday, November 9, 2007

After all, isn't it all about good parenting?

Tomorrow, Nov. 10th, I have my first book reading and signing of ON BEING A GAY PARENT! Since the first time I talked openly, and publicly, about being a gay dad at the SOLO Conference at Kanuga Retreat Center (Labor Day Weekend 2007), a group largely composed of "non-coupled" women and men, I have had other opportunities to talk about being a gay dad. I'll call these other speaking engagements and opportunities, "warm-up acts." After all, I was a thespian in high school, and always will be in life.

But reading from the book ON BEING A GAY PARENT, in a context in which I have little to no control of who will be in the audience is a little bit more daunting, yet I am up for the challenge...and the ride on the roller coaster. The roller coaster is the "ups and downs" that I experience when no one is around me, wondering "What have I just done?" in writing the book and having it published for the world to read and know "our story" as a family. In my reading from various websites and blog sites, I have no illusions of how hostile some people will be in response to what I am promoting in this book: the normality of being a parent of two great children who just happens to be gay. These will be "down" moments. But I also have no illusions that there will be other interested, caring, and supportive folks who are glad to know that this book is finally out, and that I am finally "out" as a dad who happens to be gay. These will be the "up"moments.

For example, at the Durham Art Guild opening reception for area artists a few weeks ago, Dean and I met another dad who is gay who, upon hearing about my book, smiled broadly and said, "I've been looking for this book for a long time! Where have you been?" As another dad who is gay with three "teenage" children, he has gone into bookstores and libraries, but has never found a book that speaks to what it means to be a dad who is gay, or a mom who is a lesbian, without it being a social scientific text book or fictionalized novel, in which the names have been changed to protect every one's identity.

In order to keep a sense of balance, this is what I am remembering: In a sense, with the publication of this book I am inviting other dads and moms who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, along with family and friends, as well as those who are curious and anxious about being out themselves, to come and talk and listen to each other's stories in a new venue!

Here's my hope, and will be my line constantly in all my readings: what I am promoting is not gay parenting, or lesbian, bisexual or transgender parenting over or against something I'll call "straight parenting": what I want to promote is good parenting, regardless of one's sexual orientation. While some people in society will get over-heated because of the "gay" part of the title of the book, they simply need to read on in the book and understand that I am simply promoting being a parent, to the best of our abilities--which changes constantly, depending on the circumstances, both ours and our children! Our being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender comes in "second" if not further back in the list of priorities when one is actively engaged in the art and act of parenting, which is our primary duty and joy as parents, no matter how young or old our children are. When one of our children are sick, in trouble, in over their heads with relationship "issues", feeling sad and depressed, needing a cheer-leader at a sports event, a happy audience member at a school play, consciousness of one's sexual orientation does not necessarily come to mind as a parent, but being a caring and proud parent does. Once they were born, I am, forever more, Adrianne and Parker's dad...and Dean is forever more their gay "nanny." And of this fact and truth, I am happy!

An open invitation: whether you are an enthusiastic supporter of this book and the author, or have some problems with the premise of the book, please come to one of the book readings and signings, and let's have a healthy conversation during the question and answer periods! I look forward to seeing you tomorrow, and the days, weeks, and months to come!

The first reading is tomorrow, at 2 P.M., at Border's in Chapel Hill, NC, just off of Hwy. 15-501! See you there and then!

Peace, Brett

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The First and Last Official Coming Out (Aren't You Already Out?) Gay Party

Funny world we live in: it is expected that those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender--and anyone else on this spectrum--"come out" and tell the world we are who we are. While the same is not expected of anyone who is straight (go figure), we, who are LGBT, dutifully "come out" of our self-imposed "closets," though there is no stated or planned ritual for such an affair.

As a son of the Church and a lover of rituals, I solved all this with my own "coming out" party!

On the evening of Saturday, November 3rd, I was joined by nine amazing, handsome men--all who say they are gay--for my first and last official coming out (aren't you already out?) gay party. While the descriptive title may seem over the top, so does the idea of "coming out." As many of you, dear readers, know, I've been gay "practically" all of my life. While I was "out" and gay everywhere in my life, busting out of closet doors during my tenure at Duke University, in reality, the last place where I was not totally "out" was in the Church per se, especially in my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA). While I had the joy of serving a fantastic congregation in Raleigh, I was never "out" to the entire congregation, though there were some members who knew, or thought they knew. Having now left that congregation, the party on Sat. night was the long anticipated "last plank, last board, last screw, last bolt, last lock" of the proverbial closet door coming off, and my coming out, with nowhere to hide anymore. In the Protestant and Catholic (and Orthodox) Churches unscripted yet hovering, shadowy, guilt-laden, shaming policy of "don't ask, don't tell," I am breathing freely, no longer constrained by this self-imposed last restraining order.

The party was marvelous: Wayne, our host, raised a glass and toasted the evening, acknowledging that I am finally out of the closet! In return, I thanked all the men for their gift of being a role model of sorts as they lived their lives free of the restraints of the "don't ask don't tell" world. We also celebrated the publication of my new book ON BEING A GAY PARENT (NYC: Seabury Press, 2007,, which I just received last week on All Saints/Souls day! Wayne and his friend Ken made a scrumptious dinner of chicken, rice, salad, and slices from several baguettes, with plenty of wine for one and all. Dessert was an apple pie (alamode) that fed all ten of us well. Vince and John brought beverages for the gathering (thanks, guys!).

Afterwards, we all had great fun as I opened gifts that were delicious and hysterical: a bottle of white wine and beautiful cork-screw from Michael, who is tempting me to be a white wine connoisseur instead of always drinking reds; new black high heels from Wayne; a travel book to gay places in the country from Ken; and a bra (purple), tiara, lipstick, Crisco (!), and hand sanitizer from Randy. Randy wanted me to "glam up." They all match perfectly with the heels. Mitchell and Joseph gave me a great pamphlet that helped me understand (tongue in cheek) what it means to be a gay man, and this pamphlet was tucked in a toy-closet that Dean, my partner, made, along with another tiara from Dean (who worked with Wayne on the party).

This was the first party at Wayne's new, beautiful house. I was honored to have this "coming out" party as his first inaugural party. I'll write down the ritual for this rite of passage soon in an article, so no one else needs to flop around in knowing what to do, or feel guilty, shamed, or sad about coming out. That is the gift of rituals: doing things decently and in order (as we Presbyterians say). We all celebrated, laughed, reflected, shared our "coming out" and "first gay kissing" stories, growing closer together in this time of hope, wonder, and love.

Thanks to the men and women who taught me the joys of being out. As they would tell me (often): come on out! The water is fine!

Swimming with joy in the delightful waters of being out,


Saturday, November 3, 2007

On Being a Gay Parent Has Been Published!

On November 1st, 2007, known in the Christian Church as All Saints and All Souls Day, I received my advance copy of On Being a Gay Parent (Seabury Press, 2007). What a way to start off a festival, a holy day of the Church: by announcing to the world the very thing that many in the Church--save for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and a few other saints and sinners--cannot stand to have in their midst.

This book is dedicated to my children: Adrianne, who is now a sophomore in college (how time flies!), and my son Parker, who is now a freshman in high school. When I told them that I was gay, Adrianne was around seven years old, and Parker was around four years old. Much has happened throughout the years, and we seem to have all "adjusted" just fine...even with a very gay dad.

My partner Dean has hung around for now almost 12 years. We are amazed when we start counting up the years. As I say in the dedication of the book, he has lived up to the children's title for him well, "the gay nanny."

This book began when my friend Richard Rodriguez suggested that the next book I write be about gay parenting! At the time I had other books I wanted to explore and write, but the themes of this book kept on coming back and nudging me to write. After finishing a few other writing projects, and with much procrastination, I quickly wrote this book. Actually, I lived this book for many years before ever writing anything about being a gay dad.

What was wonderfully awkward about writing this book was this: I started writing the book in third person, writing about "those gays and lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people." It was cumbersome writing. One day I simply started writing about "us" and "our", and no longer about "them" and "their." A break-through! And the writing never stopped.

Those who tune in and read this blog, enjoy! Comment away! Let's have a real and great dialogue/conversation going!

And thanks for reading this new blog!