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