Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Latest in Q Notes: An Unexpected Homecoming

College changes a person. I was an undergraduate and graduate student for 13 years and I’ve been a faculty member in colleges, universities and seminaries for over 17 years and I’m not sure what it is that brings about the change. I’d like to say the change occurs is the mysterious alchemy that takes place between teacher and student in the classroom over a semester. But, perhaps, transformations happen in the dorm room, fraternity or sorority, in the middle of the hallways and kitchens where people gather informally to discuss the “buzz” about a class or issue on campus. Then again, it could be at a big sports event, musical performance or off-campus party that the real magic takes place and lives are forever changed. Somewhere, somehow, with someone, the change occurs, in which a new perception of life appears over the horizon and the person is never the same.

This is what happened to my son after his first semester in college. He is a changed person. And, I’m not the only one who observed it. So did his girlfriend, his mom, my partner and his sister. The community of love noticed it. Note of the change came when my partner and I picked my son up from college. We drove all the way to Miami, Fla., on a Saturday in mid-December to gather my son and his belongings as he makes a move to a new school in the spring. On the way back home on Sunday, with a 12-hour ride before us, there was time for us to talk about his first semester experience, otherwise known as “the good, the bad, and the ugly” (with apologies to Clint Eastwood). It was during one of the lulls of traveling that we talked about the changes in his life, from his perspective. He said that having a gay dad wasn’t that big a deal anymore. I was driving at the time and about slammed on the brakes or drove off the road in amazement. This from the young man who, during high school, made it very clear that he didn’t want anyone knowing that he had a gay dad with a partner. It was because of Parker’s vote of “no” that I did not run for a place on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Community School board. It was because of his desire to keep knowledge of my being gay hidden that I tried to keep a low profile when it came to his school events, usually sitting in the back row of sporting events or other ceremonies.

In hindsight, the change was evident when he introduced us to his college friends around the dorm when he was moving out. He hugged me openly, in public, when he came out of the dorm. We met his roommate, his friends across the hall, and the Resident Assistant, without him blinking an eye. “This is my dad, Brett. This is his partner, Dean.” He said it just that easily and naturally. We piled his stuff into the rented SUV for our long excursion back and waved goodbye to his friends. And, off we went, homeward bound to North Carolina. But, the young man who left us four months earlier was not the same. Something happened. Someone changed.

In the Christian scriptures, there is the story of the Prodigal or Lost Son. It is a family system story of reconciliation among many conflicting parties. In a nut shell, a parent celebrates the return of the young child who went his own way, sowing his “wild oats,” coming home finally, seeking reconciliation with those who stayed home, namely the other child and parent (Luke 15:11-32). While my daughter found it easier to acknowledge that she had a gay dad, my son’s journey in conceding that his dad is gay has been longer and far more, well, interesting. I can empathize with my biblical forbear, who rejoiced at this unexpected homecoming. I shall savor the day I could hear and see the simple, public recognition of father and son, parent and child, with “Yeah, that’s my dad and his partner, Brett and Dean.” Such sweet words are truly a gift in this holiday season. : :

Click here for the inside edition:



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Madonna, Lover, and Son

Finding alternative views of the Holy Family that include other families usually excluded from this season of Christmastide.

The above image is the first: Madonna, Lover, and Son by Beckye Harrelson. She is reaching back to the closeness of Ruth and Naomi in this depiction.




Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Y of the Triangle Discriminates Against LGBTQ People

For my Chapel Hill-Carrboro-Durham-Raleigh friends: please help publicize the discrimination practiced by Y of the Triangle against LGBTQ people. They discriminated us, a) in terms of membership: they fail to include our families, describing family ONLY in heterosexual terms, "husband/wife," making a LGBTQ couple sign up under the more expensive "two adults"; b) they don't offer their full-time LGBTQ employees the same benefit plan they offer straight employees. Read the letters in today's Chapel Hill News against Y of the Triangles attempt to merge with Chapel Hill/Carrboro's YMCA:


Y of the Triangle Discriminates Against LGBTQ People

For my Chapel Hill-Carrboro-Durham-Raleigh friends: please help publicize the discrimination practiced by Y of the Triangle against LGBTQ people. They discriminated us, a) in terms of membership: they fail to include our families, describing family ONLY in heterosexual terms, "husband/wife," making a LGBTQ couple sign up under the more expensive "two adults"; b) they don't offer their full-time LGBTQ employees the same benefit plan they offer straight employees. Read the letters in today's Chapel Hill News against Y of the Triangles attempt to merge with Chapel Hill/Carrboro's YMCA:


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Manbites Dog Theater Performs "Edith Can Shoot Things and Hits Them"

Great play this weekend: Edith Can Shoot Things and Hits Them" by A. Rey Pamatmat was fantastic. Saw the play at Manbites Dog Theater. It is about Edith (12 years old) and her brother Kenny (16) who've been left behind by their dad (who is dealing with the death of his wife, their mom by staying away). Her brother is in love with Benji, who is also 16. They actually become family with one another after everyone has left them (Benji is forced out of his family when his mother discovers he is gay).

Well done!

Click here for more:

Thumbs up!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chapel Hill News: Justice and the Freedom Riders

The world premiere of Mike Wiley's "The Parchman Hour," performed by Playmakers Repertory Company, was a theatrical tour de force. The story followed the lives of 13 Freedom Riders from 1961, in the height of the civil rights movement.

Many of the riders who went to Mississippi were from the North. Most of them were young and living out their idealism: to work with others for justice and integration among a people where the ugliness of racial segregation ruled. Simply by sitting on a bus together - black and white - they had drawn the hostility of the Southern segregationist forces. Sadly, they were quickly imprisoned for three months at one of the most notorious prisons in the country: Parchman Farm.

This was a place in which those who survived for a period of time were literally the walking wounded. I expected to "ooh" and "ahh" over one more incredible set (and the television screens and burned-out bus in the back stage area did not disappoint). And the ensemble cast was outstanding (I stood with all others for the ovation at the end of the performance). The music, especially the blues group seated in the burned-out bus and the beautiful rendition of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin' " brought a lump of nostalgia to my throat.

The performance was but one venue that called me to consider my place, my role, in the marathon work of justice. At NCCU's Art Museum, there is a stirring exhibit of African-American heroes, "Let Your Motto Be Resistance," a collection of photographs from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The first image that grabbed my attention was a slave whose back was scarred for life from the lashes of a whip. Sojourner Truth stares into my soul. The elegant Jessye Norman casts a hypnotic glance as I pass by.

I am always gladdened by these provocative performances and challenging exhibits that beg me to consider, "What have you done in the name of justice and liberty?" I contemplate, "What should I and we as a people do in making this a better place for us locally and globally, for our children, friends and family?"

This openness to change personally and communally and impulse to engage others in this question lasts for around a week or so. Then daily life slowly seeps back and closes that which was open before. Classes need to be taught; family responsibilities intervene; other petty issues take over. I am closed once again to the important question of our day and age: How ought we live with one another?

Ideally, in columns such as this, I support all efforts to wipe out the injustice underlying all forms of discrimination, whether it be on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationalism, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, education, ableism, religious or ageism, to name a few. Through conversation with those opposed to LGBTQ people's gaining civil rights, there may be a change of hearts and minds.

There was a 50th year reunion of the Freedom Riders, including the Rev. Reginald Green and Rep. Bob Filner, who were young men with a conscience and conviction. Finally, in November, a group of six Palestinians rode an Israeli commuter bus that links Jewish settlements in the West Bank to Jerusalem and were arrested at an Israeli check point. They were demanding the right to travel freely to Jerusalem because access to the West Bank is restricted by Israel. Their model of resistance? The Freedom Riders of the 1960s!

Like 1961, we have seen the seasons turn, from a season of apathy to a season of justice. The "Occupy" encampments here and abroad have gained the media's attention as those who are the "have-nots" in the world are fed up with the sense of economic injustice that knows no boundaries. "Arab springs" have changed dictatorial governments abroad.

To quote that oft-used phrase, "Silence gives consent." Silence is no longer the rule of the day. There is a roar that is coming, emanating from the bowels of the darkest place in this country and abroad. To quote Dylan, "Times, they are a-changin."

Contact Brett Webb-Mitchell at

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

With Second Class at NCCU

Working on writing on blogsites!

Go Eagles!



Teaching Students at NCCU the Art of Blogging

Found this article on, re: the NC State General Assembly voting against African Americans on the issue of Racial Justice Act and Voter ID Act.

Click here for what Rev. Barber has to say:

LGBTQ people and our brothers and sisters who are African American, who face injustice in the state of NC, must stand together against such bigotry.



Monday, November 28, 2011

Children's "Kiddie's Lit" meets LGBTQI parenting

My latest in Q Notes on children's literature and shaping lives:

Like generations of parents before us, my children’s mom and I read to our young children every night. It was part of our nighttime ritual: after dinner, we’d watch a little television before we would run into the bedroom of our children. Thankfully, they shared a bedroom at the time and were both into storytelling before it was time to say our evening prayers, followed by a kiss and a hug. The stories we read were some of the “old chestnuts” of nighttime story telling, told often enough that my children would repeat the words as we read them from the book, with the same inflection in their voices as their parents. Because their mom and I are educators, we knew fully well that they were learning how to read and speak by this simple rite of passage. What made both children early readers was this repetitious activity, performed seven days a week, no matter how tired we were. “Good Night Moon,” “Brown Bear, Brown Bear,” “Make Way for Ducklings!” were wonderful tales, dwelling mostly on animals, colors, shapes and sizes with only a tad bit of drama or a touch of comedy in each tale told. Later in their life, the children’s mom did a bang-up job of regaling my kids with the Harry Potter tales.

While we were teaching our children a world of images, colors, shapes and sizes, I also was aware that the children’s books also taught them cultural signs and symbols, morality and ethics. Many stories had the usual cast of characters, including a mom and dad, with a son and daughter, pets and a station wagon, submarine, magic broom or enchanted carriage to transport them around the neighborhood, world or other universes. The normative way of being family was being slowly and methodically well bred within my children’s lives. Heterosexual parents or single parents ruled, with a brief mention of a grandparent or distant relative sprinkled in for good measure. In those early years, the only children’s book that was popular that presented an alternative, lesbian or gay parent world was “Heather Has Two Moms.”

Thankfully, the world of children’s literature has changed in recent years. LGBTQ and straight parents can now find engaging children’s stories that present our families in ways that are healthy, fun, adventurous and endearing. For example, a classic tale that is loved universally is “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. This story captures the fantastic family of two male penguins, Roy and Silo, loving fathers, who take care of an otherwise orphaned penguin. Then there is “King and King,” by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland. This tale is set in a fairytale narrative in which usually boy-meets-girl, this story breaks that convention and describes the love of two princes “who live happily ever afterward.” Finally, I recently received a book from Australia, “My Two Super Dads” (words by Bronwen Fallens and excellent illustrations by Muntsa Vicente). It is a lovely, simple story, well told by a little girl who loves her two dads, Mack and Tom, a cat and a dog and the wonderful extraordinarily ordinary life they live “Down Under.” Mack and Tom love their little girl as they cook and tend to housecleaning duties together and enjoy vacations at the beach. At night, the two dads did what my children’s mom and I did every night: the tucked the little girl into bed, with a story and kiss on the head and a big bear hug.

The time and place for teaching the next generation about respect and inclusion of all kinds of families begins right in our children’s bedrooms, as we tell our children about all kinds of adventures in a world of bears, Dr. Seuss characters, ducklings, Harry Potter wizardry and gay dads. With hopes for a kinder future, telling these stories, night after night, the message will be made clear: we live in a world of wonder, with all kinds of parents, who provide what we all want and need, which is love. : :

Click here for the link:



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Commitment NC!

Justin Cook, a photographer based in Durham, NC is doing a photographic expose/display of LGBTQI couples in the state, as a way of publicizing/educating the "masses" as to the "normality" or simply "this is who we are" poses of LGBTQI people, in light of the amendment against marriage equality in May 2012.

Click here for his link, and go to "their faces" in which you'll find out pic in the third frame (scroll/slide from the bottom):

Doing our bit to stop this hate-filled amendment from passing against marriage equality.



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chapel Hill News: My Article Against the Constitutional Amendment

A gray, gauzy veil suddenly covered the state of North Carolina on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011.

The edges of the shadowy cloth started to edge its way over the state on Monday, Sept. 12, 2011. On this day, the N.C. House of Representatives voted 75-42, with point-person N.C. Rep. Paul Stam encouraging this vote to amend the constitution of the state, dictating that marriage between one man and one woman be the only domestic legal union recognized in the state.

This amendment, if passed, would not only affect lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) people, but straight couples who choose not to marry.

All North Carolinians would feel the gravity of this veil if this amendment were to pass. The amendment is oppressive of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. The following day the N.C. Senate, fulfilling the long-held dream of state Sen. Jim Forrester, finished the necessary work, guaranteeing that the amendment would be on the ballot before state voters in May 2012. The Senate vote was 30-16.

On that very day, my partner and I were among the hundreds who rallied against this amendment while the N.C. Senate quietly voted.

Ironically, there was a story in the News & Observer that ran that day about local senior couples who are choosing not to get married but be in significant domestic partnerships, in which their benefit plans will not be hurt.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and Mrs. Cheney voiced support for marriage equality on ABC television's "The View" on the day the N.C. Senate voted against marriage equality, showing how out of step N.C. Republicans are with the rest of their party nationally. And U.S. Sen. Richard Burr voted for the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" only a few months earlier, making it possible for out-LGBTQ people to serve their country openly in the U.S. military.

Never mind what progress is being made outside the state for equality for and among all. These legislators wanted to be sure that North Carolina would be ready when 1959 rolled around again. I got my rotary phone out for that day.

The corrosive effects of this veil are already being felt not only across the state but locally as well. After all, it is not like we were living in a state of equality in North Carolina before this.

The federal and statewide Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) guaranteed that my partner and I could not legally wed in this state.

If we were married in another state or country, our marriage or civil union would not be recognized.

We are second-class citizens, even though we pay taxes, are conscientious workers, vote, participate in civic life and communities of faith, and, like all gays, renovated our home and surroundings, raising the value of homes around us.

Being second-class citizens, my partner and I, along with our children, are already treated as lesser-thans in Chapel Hill-Carrboro.

Some friends of my daughter were not allowed to sleep over in our house because some parents were leery of their daughters staying in a home with two gay men, but they were allowed to go on sleepovers in her mom's house. And my son was teased and bullied by other boys at Carrboro High for having an openly gay dad.

If it passes, this constitutional amendment will further solidify the suffocating oppression LGBTQ people feel in this state daily, infecting our relationships with others in our families, among our friends, at work, in faith communities, in our businesses, and in civic and public life daily.

As other states quickly move towards equality, from coast to coast, many of us will leave North Carolina.

For our own health and well-being, if the veil descends fully and engulfs the land and the people, families like ours will no longer be "goin' to Carolina in our mind" (with apologies to James Taylor).

Carry on, for we will be gone, as will countless others, leaving the state poorer economically, educationally, culturally and in spirit.

Click for more:

Q Notes: Being a Parent of a Gay Parent

This is my latest on Q Notes:

While it would’ve been helpful at times to have an operating instruction manual in raising children, it simply did not come with the arrival of my children. I hunted for it in all kinds of places, but never did find it. And, while my parents often seemed to raise my brother and I effortlessly at times, I now know that most parents do what we do as parents with our children from the seat of our pants. In performing arts terms, parenting is all about the art of improvisation, day in and day out.

Coming out is a similar process: there is no operating instruction manual in the art of coming out of one’s closet as an LGBTQ person. I still find it fascinating that those of us who are LGBTQ have gone through the process of coming out at one point or another — or often in different contexts — even though there is no step-by-step plan, ritual, ceremony or party to celebrate such an achievement in one’s life. I’ve yet to find a holiday card for such an occasion, though I’m sure some entrepreneur has already thought about this niche market. When I came “out” of my “closet” to my family (though the metaphor of armoire is a better description in talking about the closet’s portability) my family network included not only my former wife and children, but my mom and dad as well. As a fan of family system theory used in the therapeutic community (I’ve used this theory in both academic and church contexts), I watched in awe as news of my being gay hit the watery surface of my family, with a ripple effect carrying news of my self-revelation and identification far and wide, catching the ear of various extended family members in my family of origin and my former wife’s family. Soon, grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and second cousins were “in” on the hot gossip of the day. Once the gay was out of the armoire, there was no longer a secret about who I was. After all, the quickest way of killing a secret is telling everyone what the secret is.

One of the unexpected results of baring my soul and stepping out of my armoire is that my mom has become a point person for other older parents of out-LGBTQ adult-children who are in the process of coming out. Gossip sometimes works for the good of all. (The root of the word “gossip” is “Godspell” or the “Good News.”) The gossip in my mom’s community in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, is that her son is a parent of two young adult children, book author and Presbyterian minister who is gay. Lo and behold, neighbors — some of whom she has said little more than “hi” to — stop her on her daily walks around the community and simply said, “Liz, can I ask you a question? My 40 year-old daughter just told me she is a lesbian, and I don’t know what to make of this news.” My mom — who is by vocation and self-identification a nurse — then simply shares her experience of learning that I was gay. She is quick to let others know, first, “it’s going to be OK,” or in her own way to let the other older parents know “it gets better.” She has spoken up and out at our home Presbyterian church and other churches in the area, encouraging them to become part of More Light Presbyterians (an LGBTQ and straight ally in the PCUSA). One of my friends in her home church calls her his favorite fruit fly. “What’s a fruit fly?” she asked me. “And, is that good?” “You’re fine,” I assured her, chuckling to myself that my mother was called a fruit fly.

While an operation manual would’ve been helpful at certain stages of this “coming out” journey, my hope is such stories like mine, like our families, provide a map for others who would like to know what may be coming their way. It is an open-ended adventure that continues to amaze me, each and every step of the way. : :

Click for more:

Monday, October 17, 2011

The "We Do" Campaign in Buncombe County, NC

A toast to modern day heroes in Buncombe County (Asheville) NC, and the "We Do" campaign, which is for marriage equality:
The Campaign for Southern Equality launched its WE DO Campaign Oct. 3, through which same-sex couples will request marriage licenses from the Buncombe County Register of Deeds. The purpose of the campaign is to resist state laws that prohibit same-sex marriage, and to protest the proposed amendment to the North Carolina constitution that would ban marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

Buncombe Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger upheld state law Oct. 3 by denying a marriage license to a number of same-sex couples, including Rev. Kathryn Cartledge and Elizabeth Eve, her partner of 30 years. They were joined by a group of supporters including state House Rep. Patsy Keever and Asheville City Council member Gordon Smith, both of whom Reisinger supported in their respective elections. Later that day, Reisinger posted the following thoughts on his Facebook page:

A few years ago I decided to dive head-first into the world of politics, because I thought I could help make the world a better place. I wanted to do more than stand on a street corner in Boone holding up a protest sign.

I worked hard to help elect Barack Obama, Patsy Keever and Gordon Smith so that they could help move our country, our state and our city in the right direction … and they have. Now that I have become a public official, I find myself in a role that requires me to uphold the law of the state of North Carolina. While I am proud of what I have accomplished, there is more work to be done. Because today when I was asked to give a friend of mine, who happens to be gay, a marriage license, I had to deny her and her partner of 30 years the joy of marriage and it broke my heart.

In order to create change and be a part of a world that equally recognizes all people, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation, we need to work hard to elect leaders who will stand up for equality.

Here's the link to their video:

Act up!

Act out!

Not time for the weak and tamed!



Saturday, October 8, 2011

Frank Bruni in Portugal: They Like Us

Frank Bruni's article/essay on marriage equality in Portugal: Lessons to be learned:

WHEN she turned 38 last month, Brenda Frota Johnson got a sweet surprise: a formal “happy birthday” from her longtime partner’s mother.

It wasn’t a gift or even a card, just a succinct text message, but even so, it had no precedent over the 10 years that she and her partner, Isabel Advirta, 39, had been making a life and a home here together.

Why this birthday? The two women share a theory.

“Brenda’s now officially a part of the family,” Advirta said recently as they watched their 3-year-old daughter, Salomé, play in a leafy Lisbon park.

Johnson agreed. “It’s because we’re married,” she said. That legal blessing — that loftiest of imprimaturs — has changed little between them but a lot around them.

With minimal international attention, Portugal — tiny, overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Portugal — legalized same-sex marriage last year. Although the country is hardly seen as a Scandinavian-style bastion of social progressivism, it’s one of just 10 countries where such marriages can be performed nationwide, and in this regard it finds itself ahead of a majority of wealthier, more populous European countries, like France, Germany, Italy and Britain. In the United States, only six states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. How did that happen? And what wisdom do the answers offer frustrated supporters of same-sex marriage here and elsewhere around the globe?

click here for more:

"The Way" by Emilio Estevez

Wonderful review of a new film on the Camino de Santiago de Compestelo.

“The Way” takes place on the Camino de Santiago, a thousand-year-old pilgrimage route across France and Spain. Sheen’s character, Tom, is a doctor living a comfortable life in California who decides to make the trek after his son is killed in a freak storm while on the pilgrimage.

“I think that the film is a reflection of where I’m at on my spiritual path,” said Estevez, who wrote, directed, and co-produced the film, and makes a few cameos as Tom’s unlucky son, Daniel.

Sheen described himself as a “declared Catholic,” but he and his wife did not raise their children Catholic, and have let Estevez take “his own personal quest.”

Estevez said he grew up hearing arguments about religion, but never about spirituality. “It’s religion that divides us,” he said in an interview with his father, “and spirituality ultimately brings us closer together.”

In the film, Tom starts out as a lapsed Catholic. Along the pilgrimage, he meets others who slowly draw him out of his tight-lipped despair and help renew his sense of spirituality. None of these main characters is overtly religious and all have their own issues with God, but by the end each seems to have made some kind of pilgrim’s progress.

Estevez said he intentionally avoided “bludgeoning the audience over the head” with a religious message, although the film is filled with shots of churches and crucifixes.

“You couldn’t point a camera anywhere without seeing religious iconography, Catholic iconography,” Estevez said. “We highlighted it when we needed to.”

Read the review and enjoy:



Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Response to NC State Sen. Jim Forrester (R): The Mysterious, Magical Act of Being Household

My young adult children are slowly coming to understand that their childhood was unique and pretty-darn good. Granted, like most young children, they weren’t sure of what was going on or who had the most power among the three adults who were “parental units” (my daughter’s term). My partner was slow to embrace his role and function as a parental unit since he came into the process of raising my children after they were born and well on their way in life. Like many LGBTQ people who decided they did not want to have children and later find themselves in relationship with those who already have children, it is a serious life-changing adjustment. This is because the presence of the one entering a significant relationship with another adult will not only leave his or her mark on the other adult, but will be either a significant or fleeting memory in the lives of a parent’s child or children. Because my partner resisted being the other “dad” in the relationship (at first), my children had great fun finding him a name: “uncle” did not work for him, so they settled on “the gay nanny” or simply “Dean.” But make no mistake, he has been fully “Dad” to them in the many expected and unexpected ways we who are biological parents try to be “moms” and “dads” with children we love and who love us.

North Carolina state Sen. Jim Forrester recently raised the problem he has with the way an increasing number of children are being raised around the world during the floor debate on the constitutional amendment banning marriage equality: “Two dads don’t make a mom. Two moms don’t make a dad. Children need both a father and a mother.” In other words, two dads or two moms is “new,” “weird” or maybe even “unbiblical” (thus sinful). What Forrester fails to understand or appreciate is that he is promoting a liberal, contemporary understanding of the American family, dubbed the “nuclear family” in the 1950s, which is equated wrongly as “the traditional family.” Time and again we need to be reminded that the “nuclear family” of “a father and a mother” is not the “traditional family” system prior to the 1950s. Instead, the traditional family pattern of raising children, before this time, was bringing up children in a household, where a child had more than a mom and a dad. Instead, there were many moms, dads and other parental units (godparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, a faith community, close friends) who raised children in multi-generational households, a pattern well-established throughout time around the world. In other words, my family system is more of a household, in which we are hearkening back to a more conservative, traditional way of raising our children rather than the sterile, unhealthy, contemporary, liberal position of Forrester.

For example, my father grew up in a house in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the 1920s, with his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They lived together in a four-story house where each family had their own floor to call their own, but my dad was raised by the generations of his extended family system, like most other children his age. In 19th century rural American farming communities, households raised children and grandchildren, a practice that was largely killed off by people moving into a city as they partook in the contemporary rise of the Industrial Revolution. Biblically, in both ancient Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament, the word “family” is not to be found. The Apostle Paul writes about “households” in his Epistles, in which generations of family members lived with one another in a single abode, farm or village. Jesus was raised in a household, since that was the common Jewish practice in his days. And, don’t get me going on King Solomon and his 700 wives, 300 concubines and kids, for a discussion of unbiblical biblical family practices.

As for me and my household, we live in a more traditional, conservative way of being household for and with one another, with two dads, a mom, two young adult children, two dogs, two homes, constant communication, care, compassion, worry and joy. My children are ever so fortunate that we chose the more old-fashioned traditional messy household way, because they have had three sets of adult, parental eyes, watching their every move with love, concern and a spirit of celebration, come what may. After all, it takes more than “a father and a mother” to raise children these days, and always has. : :

Here's a link to the article in Q Notes:


Sunday, September 25, 2011

On WUNC's "The State of Things" on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011

Here's a link to the conversation I was part of on WUNC's "The State of Things" regarding the upcoming vote on amending the constitution of NC against LGBTQ people:


I did!



Missing LGBTQ Parents at NC Pride

Maybe I was the one who was missing, but I could not easily find the booths/pavilions of LGBTQ parents as I've been able to find as in years past. Have we become passe? Is being an LGBTQ parent no longer in need or want of a social network?

Just wondering.

Pace, B

Monday, September 19, 2011

The UK is moving toward marriage equality

This post from Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan about the UK moving toward marriage equality (while NC moves away from marriage equality):

They've had civil partnerships for same-sex couples since 2005 and now David Cameron—the UK's conservative prime minister—has announced that his/her majesty's government will equalize marriage laws before the next general election. Says Sullivan...

When Virtually Normal came out in 1995, I didn't dare hope that this day would come—or that it would come from the Conservative party in Britain, which now has more openly gay members of parliament than the more liberal opposition. And it is, of course, a conservative position: promoting family, responsibility, and civil equality in response to an emerging social reality—large numbers of openly gay citizens. In this sense, the GOP is not in any way "conservative." It is better understood as a religious movement with radically reactionary political objectives, like undoing much of the New Deal. One day, it may recover, and candidacies like Jon Huntsman's show the way forward. But not yet. And perhaps not for a very long time. When a party becomes a religion, and when policies become doctrines, change is very hard.

I was living in London in 1988—waiting tables, seeing plays, stealing silverware—when a previous conservative prime minister and her party rammed Section 28 through Parliament. If someone had told me then that the conservative-prime-minister-after-next would oversee the legalization of same-sex marriage, I wouldn't have believed it. So, hey, it looks like he meant it.

I am an Anglophile. Maybe it is time to move.



Chapel Hill News Article/My View Column

The latest from me in Chapel Hill News:
As I pondered coming out of my lamentable self-constructed gay closet in the 1990s, I was drawn to gay-friendly Chapel Hill and Carrboro, oases in a desert of homophobic shrillness.

My closet - built by me but well fortified by the Church, the place of higher education where I worked, and the American South - was slowly coming apart as I began to live more honestly and openly. I was heartened by the simple fact that out-gay men such as Mike Nelson was Carrboro's mayor and Joe Herzenberg was on the Chapel Hill Town Council, and by advocates at Binkley Memorial Baptist Church, United Church of Chapel Hill, and Church of Reconciliation.

For many of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ), such a public witness provides us a general sense of what the cultural "temperature" is in terms of knowing whether we can live honest and open lives, or if we need to be on our guard for our very survival.

In 2011, I am rid of the closet. I speak and write about the current hot button political, religious, and cultural issue of LGBTQ equality as an out-gay dad and Presbyterian pastor. As a board member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA I raised a ruckus about the Y sponsoring the Boy Scout troop, pointing out the anti-LGBTQ policies of the Scouts. I'm heartened by the presence of more out LGBTQ people and straight allies in public office and pulpits in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Municipalities have passed laws that provide LGBTQ couples civil unions. More private industries offer benefit packages that cover health care and retirement for same-sex couples.

Yet there are businesses and nonprofit groups, such as the YMCA of the Triangle, who do not offer LGBTQ employees the same benefit plans as they do straight employees. And the Republican-led legislature of North Carolina succeeded this week in putting a referendum on the May ballot to amend the state's constitution banning equal rights to marriage for LGBTQ couples.

Spreading misinformation around the state, some political and religious leaders stir up fear of the "Other," inspired by hate and institutionalizing injustice. While metropolitan parts may be LGBTQ-friendly, much work must be done in educating and advocating for LGBTQ people in the state's small towns and rural hamlets.

Like the prophet Amos, who declared that justice will roll on like a river over oppression, and Jesus' message of all-encompassing, inclusive love, especially for those oppressed, I write these strong words knowing that I'm not the first Presbyterian pastor - nor last - who has stood up against intolerance and bigotry.

On Sunday, Aug. 28, I watched as the Peace and Justice Plaza marker placed in front of Chapel Hill's Post Office revealed four new names. The one that stood out was Presbyterian pastor, the Rev. Charles M. Jones. In the footsteps of Amos and Jesus, Jones exemplified the virtues of justice, courage, and hospitality by welcoming African Americans to University Presbyterian Church.

For his actions, he was removed from that prestigious pulpit by our regional body of authority, the Presbytery, in hindsight an act of injustice and cowardliness. Nevertheless, the Rev. Jones with the support of others began the Community Church where all were welcome, regardless of one's ethnicity or national heritage.

Personally and vocationally I draw succor from the Rev. Jones' story. As he faced the hostility of racism in his day, naming the hideous nature of racist bigotry, it is his story that is honored to this very day and not those who opposed him trying to delay the inevitable day of justice.

Like my forbears, I too name and call out those who purposefully spread misinformation, fear, and maliciousness toward LGBTQ people, denying us equal rights in the arena of public, religious, and private life.

Working toward being and becoming a more just society is a constant, for immorality is insidious, forever changing in its mutant form. Working for justice is, for me, a sacred duty done with love. I draw hope for a brighter day from those who were successful in showing us a better way of living at peace with one another.

Brett Webb-Mitchell lives in Chapel Hill. Contact him at

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Andrew and Anthony: Mazel Tov!

I've done this before, posting wedding announcements of LGBTQ couples from the New York Times:

Mazel Tov, Andrew and Anthony!

Andrew Brennan and Anthony House

Andrew James Brennan and Anthony Paul House were joined in civil partnership Friday at the Town Hall in Oxford, England. Maggie Richards, a deputy superintendent registrar of Oxfordshire, officiated.

The couple met at Oxford University, from which Mr. Brennan received master’s degrees in comparative social policy and management research, and from which Dr. House received a master’s and a doctorate in modern history. He was a Rhodes scholar in 2003.

Mr. Brennan (left), 29, and Dr. House, 30, work for Google in London. Mr. Brennan is a senior associate in communications, handling publicity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the Android mobile device operating system. Dr. House, 30, is the public policy manager for privacy.

Mr. Brennan graduated from Yale. He is the son of Ann Marie Walsh Brennan and William J. Brennan of Valley Forge, Pa. His mother is an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. His father is a partner at Butera, Beausang, Cohen & Brennan, a law firm in King of Prussia, Pa.

Dr. House graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown. He is a son of Janice K. House and Dr. Creigh S. House of Spokane, Wash. His father is a dentist in private practice in Spokane. His mother is a microbiologist at Sacred Heart Medical Center there.

Beyond Binary Thinking

Lady Gaga's performance of the VMA (Video Music Award) Show on MTV gave my NCCU students pause to think about her cross-dressing behavior. In her James Dean-inspired outfit, she strutted around stage, danced, and sang wonderfully...for Lady Gaga.

With her performance, we then began a discussion on the way we appear in public, and the fluid nature of sex, sexuality and sexual orientation...going beyond "male-female."



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Justice and Peace Plaze in Chapel Hill, NC

I went to the dedication of 4 new names to the "Justice and Peace" plaza in front of Chapel Hill's old Post Office building--itself, an icon in CH. Four people were remembered: Ms. Clark, an African American activist in the area; Dan Pollitt of UNC; along with a person or two I'd met in my time in Chapel Hill. One was Yonni Chapman, who played an important part in the civil rights movement in CH; and the Rev. Charles Jones, a Presbyterian minister at Univ. Presbyterian Church who worked hard toward integration. He was actually removed from Univ. Presby. Church by the Presbytery because of his right and good actions in re: to integration. He became pastor of the Community Church of Chapel Hill, where I was once youth leader.

And the work of justice and peace continues in terms of LGBTQ equal rights.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It Gets Better and NCCU

The books, "It Gets Better," 8 copies, arrived! The group of out LGBTQ faculty will help distribute the books to NCCU, Durham libraries, and GSA groups in Durham high schools.

How great is that!?

I am now currently creating a group of LGBTQ and straight allies faculty, administrators, and staff at NCCU, who will continue to support folks at NCCU and beyond.

Working on making change happen, one faculty person at a time.



Monday, August 15, 2011

NCCU: LGBTQ Group Holds Opening Event for Students

The LGBTQ student groups at NC Central University--an HBCU--held an opening event with ice cream and t-shirts, and around 50+ students showed up. There were also 10 or more staff, administrators, and faculty as well. It was amazing to see the students who up!

This is very good!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reporting from the Raleigh Business and Professional Network Dinner

I had a great time with the folks with the Raleigh Business and Professional Network group last night. I told stories about being a gay dad...front-line kind of stories.

Now, what WAS interesting is that out of the 40-50 people there, almost HALF self-identified as an LGBTQ parent! Amazing.

The beautiful part? A gentleman in his 70s told me that his wife died recently, and after her death he came out to his kids, telling them, "I'm gay." 70s! Coming out! Coming into his own life. Amazingly beautiful.

Invite me to come and stat the story telling where you live.




When I taught at Whitworth College, Univ. of South FL., NC State Univ., Duke Divinity School, and now NC Central University, I keep taking students into a context, immerse them in it, before they start to talk and think about it.

This little snippet captures what I try to do.

Love it.

Same thing goes with learning about LGBTQ issues: immerse yourself in life and the living!

Love it!

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Raleigh Business and Professional Network Dinner Presentation on Wed., Aug. 10, 2011

I'll be giving a talk on gay parenting to the business leaders (LGBTQ and straight allies group) in Raleigh, NC tomorrow, Wed., Aug. 10, 2011. I'll be talking about the experience of parenting from both the vantage points of the parent, the partner, and the children.

Come one and all!



Monday, August 8, 2011

"Moving" from Q Notes


From Q Notes:

One of my most complex memories — fond and sad — involved the simple act of moving a set of bunk beds into my son Parker’s bedroom in the house that I then lived in with his mom. My son was almost three years old and the bunk bed was to be put in his bedroom as he moved out of a crib that had grown too small to fit his growing body. He was ready for a bed of his own. Given his propensity of climbing anything and everything that did or did not move, we bought a bunk bed that had a removable ladder or he’d be up on the top bunk in no time at all. Watching my young boy grow from a crib to a bed of his own was one of those small, happy turning point moments in fatherhood. And, he smiled with glee when he saw the bunk bed appear at the house.

What made this a sad moment was that my former wife and I were in the process of separating. I had already moved out of the bedroom I shared with my children’s mom and was slowly making my way toward the door — physically and metaphorically — exiting the family I had helped create carefully with my former wife. The person helping in the move was none other than my partner. I needed his assistance in using his Chevy S-10 pick-up truck to deliver the bunk bed and then his aid in getting the multiple parts of the bed into my son’s bedroom. This moment was awkward because it was dawning on me that this was pivotal when my former wife would be meeting my possible partner, though the future of my relationship with him was uncertain at the time of the move. I had only recently come to accept the truth that I was, without question, gay. More important, I had also come to the realization that in order for me to move forward with my life — relationally, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually as a gay man — I needed to simply do what I wrestled with to no end: move out of the home I had created with my former wife and children.

Fifteen years later: I am writing this essay in the middle of Miami International Airport, waiting for our delayed flight to Raleigh-Durham to board. Across from me are my partner and son, chatting to one another about our visit to my son’s new school. My partner and I are in the process of helping move my son again. It is an exciting time in my son’s life. He has moved comfortably into young adulthood. My son is moving on, having long left his bunk bed life to one of a young college student. He is excited about this move, calling the university he is attending simply: “Sweet!” What was amazing to my partner and I was quite simple and profound: there was, first, the joy of watching my son grow up. Second, we were still together, in a world in which many LGBTQ partners face incredible pressures in the South that still does not legally, socially, spiritually, physically and communally support such relationships. In the case of North Carolina, along with a state Defense of Marriage Act that makes our being a legally wedded or united, committed couple null and void, there is now the threat to constitutionally mandate our status as second-class citizens. Nevertheless, we are still here, still together, witnessing my son’s next big move in his pilgrimage of life. When I reminded my partner that we had watched my son move from a crib to bunk bed, tears welled up in him. We are still all together now, celebrating my son’s move to young adulthood. We are all moving, together, on this pilgrimage of life. : :

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Writing like a banshee

I've been a most horrible blogger.

Forgive me, kind readers.

I've been taken up by re-writing/polishing/revising the proposal to my memoir DIVINITY, and have not attended to this or other blogs.

I've also been writing like a wild banshee for Chapel Hill News and Q Notes.

Stay tune!



Friday, July 15, 2011

History Lessons in CA

I'm quite exhilarated over CA asking students to know their LGBTQ history. Quite frankly, to use the famous quote by Edmund Burke, "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."

There are many LGBTQ and straight people who simply don't know the history, the story, the narrative of being LGBTQ in this society, let alone world history. It is very relevant discussion in light of the attacks that go on daily upon LGBTQ people. For example, when, who and why "Stonewall"? When did the term "homosexual" come about? First gay elected official in the States? Highest elected out LGBTQ person in office?

History lessons matter.



Friday, July 8, 2011

Culture Awareness/Culture Shock: From NYC to NC

Just returned from a marvelous birthday celebration trip to NYC. This would be in the state that just approved marriage equality.

The culture shock? Coming back to NC, a state that a) is going to vote on a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, and b) a young child was killed because he "acted gay". From

Prosecutors laid out the case Friday against a Durham man charged with killing a 4-year-old boy and 28-year-old-woman, saying he led a “religious” group of women and children who called him “Lord” and feared him.

Peter Lucas Moses, 27, faces first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Jadon Higganbothan, 4, and Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, 28. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty against him. Defense attorneys didn't speak in his behalf at a court hearing Friday.

Prosecutors said Moses killed Jadon because he thought the child was gay and McKoy after he learned she couldn't have children and wanted to leave the group.

Time for a change in this state.



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Post on Salon.Com

Good morning from NYC.

On July 4th, I watched the firework display over the Hudson, and then was given the treat of reading my post on as I was walking back from the night's festivities.

I am posting the link to the here:

The link/story has also been picked up by others, like



Sunday, June 26, 2011

I was born in Brooklyn, New York...Now, I can get married to my partner in Brooklyn, NY

I never thought I'd say or write these words:

I was born in Brooklyn, NY.

I am a native New Yorker.

Today, I can get married in New York, wherever.

I am proud to claim my New York roots.

Mazel Tov!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Frank Bruni is Right

Sweet op-ed in the NYT by Frank Bruni about equal marriage being passed in NY. He understands taht the more we tell our story, the better it is for all:

Over the last quarter-century the love that dared not speak its name turned into a veritable motor mouth, to a point where the average American, according to an astonishing Gallup Poll last month, thinks that about 25 percent of the population is homosexual. Hardly. But that perception underscores how visible gay people have become. And familiarity changes everything.



p.s., thanks New Yorkers! What a special state to call home!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Amazing Fathers' Day

This morning on CBS Sunday Morning they had a cute Fathers' Day "postcard" with two gay dads and their cherubic child.


Those were the days!

Now I have two grown adult children, and things are quite different. And a nice testimony to the difference was the gift of presence today: Dean and I showed up unexpectedly at the Weathervane restaurant in Chapel Hill, not telling Parker (son) that we were there. He was gracious and kind when he realized we were the point of paying for our meals and providing a cheese plate and dessert...holy kaboly!

Tonight, daughter Adrianne is going with us to hear some good old blues and folk music at a picnic with us. We'll help provide the food.

A marvelous day to be a dad and partner.



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Archbishop Dolan Vs. The World of Change

God is doing something is the Spirit's will

Sadly, the Archbishop of NY doesn't quite get what is going on in this world, nor does the hierarchy of the Church. Or, they get it, but wish to deny the reality of what is going on in this world. A maturation of this day and age in accepting the presence of LGBTQ people.

There was this telling quote by Maureen Dowd in her essay on this issue of gays in the Church:

The church refuses to acknowledge the hypocrisy at its heart: that it became a haven for gay priests even though it declares homosexual sex a sin, and even though it lobbies to stop gays from marrying.


In the same blog, Dolan snidely dismissed the notion that gay marriage is a civil right. “We acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a ‘right,’ ” he wrote.

“And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?”

And how about the right of a child not to be molested by the parish priest?

Dolan acts like getting married (when done by gays) is a self-indulgent act of hedonism when it’s really a leap of faith and a promise of fidelity.

Click here for more:

Archbishop Dolan need to understand that just as straight people are "hard wired" by God to be straight (natural law, anyone?), so God has "hard wired" others to be LGBTQ...or a combination thereof.

BTW: I noticed that there were a healthy number of gay couples posting their marriage announcement in the nyt this Sunday.

To quote Bob Dylan, "Times they are a' changin'"

So is the world.

God (thankfully) is the one doing the changing.



Friday, June 17, 2011

Weird Confluence: Marriage, Manners, and Unions

So: In Illinois, you can now have a "civil union." Soon, in NY state, we can be married (hopefully it'll all pass this weekend). That makes NY state #6 for equal rights in marriage. And NY is the third largest state in the Union. NJ is also talking about it.

My friend Steven Petrow talked about his book on manners and LGBTQ issues yesterday. Such marriages and unions necessitate such a book.

Weird, but good.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back in Chapel Hill

I've been on a pilgrimage of sorts, discovering my place in the sandwich generation. I took care of my mom for the last 12 days, assisting her as she gained strength after her recent operation (open heart surgery) and witnessing my son's graduation from Carrboro High School.

Ain't life grand?


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Being a Gay Son

My mom is at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, OR, having come through heart valve surgery with great ease! Not bad for, well, a woman never shares her age (or so we say).

I am in full "son" mode, helping out where I can.

We welcome all kinds of prayers, good thoughts, warm wishes, happy vibes.

Fun being the gay son than the gay dad for awhile.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Still a Presbyterian minister, still gay: check!

Nothing much has changed, and everything has changed since Amendment 10A was ratified, coming into force in July 2011: we, who are LGBTQ and in relationship, can serve in ordained positions in the Presbyterian Church (USA).



Monday, May 16, 2011

And celebrating NBA Executives who come out: Rick Welts, Welcome!

This was a weekend of top people coming out.

There was also Rick Welts, owner of the Phoenix NBA team.

From the, Welts said this about coming out:

This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits,” said Mr. Welts, who stands now as a true rarity, a man prominently employed in professional men’s team sports, willing to declare his homosexuality. “Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation.”

Dr. Richard Lapchick, the founder and director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, and the son of the basketball legend Joe Lapchick, agreed. “The fact that there’s no other man who has done this before speaks directly to how hard it must be for Rick to do this now,” he said.

Click here for more.

Welcome Rick!


Back in the Closet Again: "My View" in Chapel Hill News

Here's my latest column from Chapel Hill News:

At dinner, my friend David, with sadness in his voice, recounts what it was like to come out reluctantly to his 80-year-old mother.

She was stunned initially, uncomfortably so, and then openly fretted: "You better not tell your older brother. He is so conservative. He probably won't understand what is happening."

Unlike a younger generation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth who more readily self-identify who they are, David, who is now in his sixties, decided that he didn't need to come out to his older brother. He remains in the closet, for his brother's sake. He has dropped hints, but has never come out and told his family that he is gay, fearing the aftershock of sharing such news in the sunset days of life.

David is like a lot of LGBTQ people who are nearing retirement. Theirs is a generation of women and men who, having established themselves in life in the closet, see no advantage of letting others know who they really are later in life.

Deciding whether to come out later in life is but one of the unexpected hurdles that LGBTQ people encounter.

Over a cup of coffee with my friend Stuart, we talked about unexpected questions and issues that are raised when one grows older. Stuart is a Southern gentleman, born and raised in Tennessee. Almost 65 years old, he retired here after a lifetime in ministry as an Episcopal priest. Having served various parishes throughout his life, his last parish was in New York City.

From his experiences in the South and metropolitan New York and New Jersey, he believes there are more retirement communities and care facilities that are more welcoming of lesbians and gays up there than in the South.

Nevertheless, he moved back to the South because "my roots are here; these are my people."

Stuart shared the grave problems facing many lesbians and gays who retire here in the South. Growing up in the South as a closeted young gay man in a straight man's world, Stuart said, "Coming out meant that one would almost literally be marked with the letter 'S' for shame."

The Southern culture made sure that the shame was not only overt, but was so insidious that it entered into one's very unconsciousness, the marrow of one's bones, thrusting generations of lesbians and gays deeper into their closets.

Stuart continued: "To be gay meant that one was defective, in need of psychiatric care, or should simply move away, for the sake of honoring the integrity of one's family of origin who had to endure such an embarrassment."

The culture of shame that entombed many lesbians and gays continues this very day in many care facilities and nursing homes in the South. Some administrators and staff of various retirement communities in the area, while welcoming gay and lesbian couples to their institutions, do not openly broadcast that they are safe places for gays and lesbians to retire. In looking on the websites of many retirement communities in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro area, none publicize that they are especially welcoming of lesbian and gay residents.

Meanwhile, there are stories in the South in which lesbian and gay retired couples have been quietly asked to leave care facilities because their relationship has made other straight residents, or staff and administration personnel, uncomfortable.

"As a result of such discrimination, lesbians and gays walk on egg shells, some reverting and re-closeting themselves," said Stuart. "After all the time, energy, and talent it took to come out in one's younger years, this is where many lesbians and gays end up: back in the closet."

The culture of shame that labels LGBTQ people as "defective" leaves little wiggle room for older gays and lesbians. They are caught between the rock of grief and the hard place of regret as into the closet they go, again.

Click here for the article.



Don Lemon of CNN: Welcome!

Don Lemon came out of his closet this morning, joining Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts of MSNBC this morning as out lesbian and gay anchors...though there are other out LGBTQ reporters on network news.

This from his interview via

“It’s quite different for an African-American male,” he said. “It’s about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You’re taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away.” He said he believed the negative reaction to male homosexuality had to do with the history of discrimination that still affects many black Americans, as well as the attitudes of some black women.

“You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women.” He added, “I guess this makes me a double minority now.”

So why do it? It really came down to the act of writing the book. Mr. Lemon said he had been on a panel a couple of years ago called “The Black Man in the Age of Obama,” and was approached afterward by a publisher’s representative about writing an inspirational book.

“It was supposed to be a little pamphlet,” he said. “You know: say your prayers; have a good, hearty handshake; say good morning to your boss.”

But as he began to write, he came to realize that he could not hold back the truth of who he was. He started to pour out the details of his personal life. How he had grown up not knowing his father, how he had suffered abuse by someone close to him."

From my experience of teaching at NC Central University, an historically black college/university there are many young women and men who are LGBTQ who are deep in their closet. The fear factor is very high in this context.

Click here for more.

Welcome out, Don!



Saturday, May 14, 2011

PCUSA: 10A Wins

For the first time in my life, especially as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament of the Presbyterian Church (USA) I can write and say and sing and dance:

I'm a Presbyterian Minister of the Word and Sacrament, and I'm gay.

The beauty of saying it now is this: I no longer fear expulsion. I will not be censured. I will not be defrocked. This is because the PCUSA announced to the world, through Amendment 10A, that I no longer have anything to fear about being out, because who I love and who loves me does not decide who is or is not called to ordained leadership in the PCUSA.





Love...At Any Age...

From the, this wonderful story:

May 11, 2011, 7:30 am — Updated: 11:31 am -->
After 60 Years, an Unfaded Desire to Make It ‘Legal’
Fred R. Conrad/The New York TimesRichard Adrian Dorr, left, and John Mace have been together for over 60 years.
Richard Adrian Dorr first sang for John Mace at the Juilliard School of Music in 1948: a rendition of the show tune “All the Things You Are,” in which the singer elegantly explains all the wonderful things his lover is to him.
Mr. Mace knew the song intimately and he accompanied Mr. Dorr on piano, with no sheet music.
The song ends with the hope that, “someday I’ll know this moment divine, when all the things you are, are mine.”
For Mr. Mace, who is 91, and Mr. Dorr, 83, that moment divine would come with a marriage in New York City where the couple has lived together for more than 60 years.
“Our friends have told us, ‘You two guys should get married in Massachusetts or Connecticut,’ but we’ve always been New Yorkers, and after 61 years of togetherness, we feel we have a right to be married in New York,” Mr. Mace said recently inside the sprawling apartment on West End Avenue and 96th Street in Manhattan where the couple, both of whom are voice teachers, live and work.
They have taught the likes of Bette Midler, Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Kim Basinger and Marsha Mason.
Both men continue to teach full time, and they took time between lessons to discuss their new role in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in New York State. They have become part of an online advertising campaign in support of the change. A short video about the couple has been making the rounds in the past week, as part of a campaign by Freedom to Marry, a gay-rights advocacy group that is helping lead the effort on same-sex marriage.

Go to



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Being a Gay Parent

Here's the thing about being an open gay parent: in a country in which being an out gay parent is still a rarity, it brings with it certain kinds of injustices and acts of overt and covert discrimination.

This week, job discrimination has taken place in two interim positions at different Presbyterian Churches (PCUSA). One church search committee has not returned any emails for over two weeks, while another Presbytery gave the most convoluted answer to how they were going to introduce me to a prospective church.




Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter! Allelujah!

Here's the hope:

New life, resurrected life, hoping in life.


"First, you need to know he's a gay parent."

I found out from my Executive Presbyter in the PCUSA/New Hope Presbytery that every time she's asked about my viability for being an interim pastor, she tels them< "First you need to know he's a gay parent."


She doesn't tell them that I'm a great pastor, fabulous preacher, smashing educator. She tells them a "gay parent."



This is the world in which I live.

It's gotta change.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Quietly Dad

Dealing with the ups and downs of fatherhood...nothing new or rip snortin' interesting.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Delaware: Here Comes the...Well, Civil Union Other

Delaware is closer today to equal rights to marriage.

Wedding bells? Not. I'm aware that this is a psychological hurtle, this naming of "marriage" with LGBTQ. So we're "up to" civil unions.

Let's go marriage!

Go all the way!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PCUSA: 8 Votes Short of Amending Constitution so that ALL who are called may be ordained

8 votes!

Never been this close.

And over 30 Presbyteries left to vote.

8 and counting...


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Congrats Paul and Derek!

From, a happy wedding celebration:

Derek Allen Brown and Paul Kang Yoo Kim were married Saturday morning at Meridian Hill Park in Washington. Hayden E. Windrow, a Universal Life minister, officiated.

Mr. Brown, 40, is a freelance travel photographer in Washington whose work has appeared in magazines and guidebooks. He graduated from New Mexico State University.

He is a son of Marcia A. Chambers of Pittsburg, Tex., and Frederick H. Brown of El Paso, Tex.

Mr. Kim, 33, has been a lawyer at the United States Agency for International Development in Washington. In the fall, he is to be posted to Islamabad, Pakistan, where he is to become a regional legal adviser for the agency. He graduated summa cum laude from Columbia and received a law degree from Yale.

He is a son of Amanda Ahn and Dong Ok Kim, both of Seoul, South Korea.

Mazel Tov!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Arkansas Highest Court Does the Right Thing

Arkansas Supreme Court reversed a voted-on measure that outlaws LGBTQ couples from adopting kids today: Arkansas' high court struck has struck down the state's law barring same-sex couples from adopting on Thursday. In an opinion published without dissent, the court argued that the law violated individuals' right to privacy. Supporters of the law are expected to fight the ruling. Arkansas voters approved Act 1 as a ballot measure in 2008. It prohibits unmarried couples who live together from adopting children, in effect shutting out gay and lesbian couples, who are not allowed to marry in the state. "Act 1 directly and substantially burdens the privacy rights of 'opposite-sex and same-sex individuals' who engage in private, consensual sexual conduct in the bedroom by foreclosing their eligibility to foster or adopt children, should they choose to cohabit with their sexual partner," concluded the court in the ruling embedded below. "The pressure on such couples to live apart, should they wish to foster or adopt children, is clearly significant." Let's hear it for sanity today in a world that is increasingly on the edge of insanity! B

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Status Update: Busy Weekend

Sat., April 2nd, was a busy day. I was a speaker on issues regarding LGBTQ on religious issues, in which I was the panelist representing the Church. Thankfully (or not), they had deconstructed the Bible only an hour earlier in another panel presentation. There was also a rep. from Judaism, Wiccan, Hinduism, and Islam.

Then I went to a viewing of "Gen Silent" by Stu Maddux, a moving film that focused on the lives of our elders who are LGBTQ struggling with the realities of the modern society in which we live. Excellent film!

More to come!



Thursday, March 24, 2011

"My View" Column in Chapel Hill News

This was published in Chapel Hill News yesterday.


Click here for copy from Chapel Hill News on-line:

My father passed away last month. His death at the fine old age of 88 years old felt utterly natural, like the coming of winter after autumn, with all the special consolations and mysteries of a season closing.

As a Presbyterian pastor, I had already planned with both him and my mom what they wanted in their respective memorial service, including what hymns were to be sung, what Scripture verses would they like read, and prayers to be prayed. What I was not ready for was the opportunity to share some of my fondest memories with friends and other family members.

Reflecting upon some of my fondest memories, with tenderness I remembered my time as a Cub Scout and in Webelos. While my mom took care of the Scouts, my dad took on the responsibility of the Webelos.

My dad took great pride in teaching all the boys in the group the fine art of tying knots, one of the skills that all Webelos should master. For several weeks, he worked with a group of rather untalented knotters who did not know a slipknot from a hitching knot. Our first attempts were hysterical, and to this day I'm not sure how he kept his laughter to himself, besides the fact that he prided himself on being a gentleman in all things he did.

Yet over a period of weeks, with much practice, I learned them all, tying knot after knot with greater alacrity. My dad was proud of this group of knotters, feeling rather successful himself in taking such novices to a level of sublime mastery.

I recently shared these Cub Scout memories when I was on the board of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA. In a recent meeting with the local Boy Scout troop that the CHCYMCA was hosting in our Meadowmont facility, I recounted the importance of the Scouting program in my boyhood.

We were meeting because the all-inclusive policies of the CHCYMCA are at odds with the discriminatory practices of the Boy Scouts of America toward gays and lesbians. I shared with the group that I treasured the memory of my time with my friends in Cub Scouts and Webelos. I happily recounted how both parents waved at my troop when marching in a community parade, and looked upon me with pride when I held in my hand a carved balsa plane or racecar, even when these model toys ended up in last place.

What was painful in sharing this story with the Scouts and CHCYMCA Board members is that I would not be able to share those same fatherhood experiences with my son were he in the Scouts, because of the Boy Scout policy of keeping out young gay men and gay dads. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed this policy of discrimination in 2000.

This practice of excluding gay boys and men from the Scouts and leadership in the organization meant that if my son chose to be part of the Boy Scouts, I would never be allowed to take the place my mom and dad did as Scout leaders because I am an out gay dad. I was saddened to learn that while straight parents - dads and moms alike - can be Scout leaders, I, along with lesbian moms, am not allowed to be in leadership roles.

I only draw succor in knowing that the Boy Scouts also discriminate against Mormons, atheists, and agnostics. Fearful that my son would see me as a second-class parent, with only straight parents as leaders, I never pushed my son to be either a Cub Scout or Boy Scout.

In the end, my son, his friends, and I would never have the opportunity to learn to tie knots together in the Scouts, though the CHCYMCA provided many more opportunities for us to bond. More importantly, this is more than about learning the practice of tying knots. It is about the opportunity of bonding together, father and son, parent and child, in a program that values all parents, regardless of one's gender, sex, race, socioeconomic class, ability or limitation, age, sexual orientation, and religion.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Affirmation: On Being Gay

These words spoke to my heart and mind, by Meinrad Craighead
I am born connected.
I am born remembering the rivers flowing from my mother's body into my body.
I pray at her Fountain of Life, saturated in her milk and blood, water and honey.
She passes on to me the meaning of religion because she links me to our origin in God the Mother.

So be it.



Friday, March 18, 2011

Thank you, Bluffton University!

I just returned from a great visit with the students, faculty, and staff of Bluffton University. We had a great discussion about people with disabilities, pilgrimage, and sex. On Wed. night, we had a wonderful gathering of 30 or more people, talking about sex and spirituality. Amazing.

Oh, and on Thursday, the preacher preached the Word of God!

On another note, more Americans than not support equal rights in terms of marriage:

A slim majority of Americans now support gay marriage, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The results underscore the nation’s increasingly tolerant views about homosexuals, and parallel a string of recent legal and legislative victories for gay rights advocates.

Unraveling the bigotry...


Friday, March 11, 2011

Coming Up Short in MD

The Maryland Senate today did not move forward with a bill promoting equal rights in marriage. From

Lawmakers in Maryland on Friday failed to gather enough votes to pass a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry, withdrawing it from consideration after hours of emotional debate and effectively killing the bill’s chances for passage this year.

Apparently, while there was a solid block of Republicans against the bill, suddenly some Democrats were intimidated by constituents and threatened not to vote for the bill.

THAT they were close to voting on this bill is a miracle. Compare what is going on in MD with NC, where there is a threat to amending our state constitution outlawing equal rights to marriage.



Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Rev. Dr. Peter Gomes

I honor and remember well the life of Peter Gomes. I met him several times throughout my life, whether at Duke or UNC.

A bit from his obit in

“Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant,” he declared in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in 1992. “Such intolerance, in the name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it cannot convert.”

In his 1996 best seller, “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart,” Mr. Gomes urged believers to grasp the spirit, not the letter, of scriptural passages that he said had been misused to defend racism, anti-Semitism and sexism, and to attack homosexuality and abortion. He offered interpretations that he said transcended the narrow context of modern prejudices.

“The Bible alone is the most dangerous thing I can think of,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “You need an ongoing context and a community of interpretation to keep the Bible current and to keep yourself honest. Forget the thought that the Bible is an absolute pronouncement.”

But Mr. Gomes also defended the Bible from critics on the left who called it corrupt because passages had been used to oppress people. “The Bible isn’t a single book, it isn’t a single historical or philosophical or theological treatise,” he told The Seattle Gay News in 1996. “It has 66 books in it. It is a library.”

Click here for another interesting article:


Portland (OR) bound...

Off to OR tomorrow, visiting my mom.

Busy here: working on columns on LGBTQ issues in both Q Notes and Chapel Hill News. Also working at NCCU full-time; and trying to finish DIVINITY proposal.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Don't Amend NC State Constitution

The NC State Constitution is under assault by conservative Republicans who are all about "less government," unless it is on an issue they deem "necessary" to address.

This amendment is bigotry in its thrust.

From Q Notes:
The proposed constitutional amendment, held at bay for seven years by the formerly Democratically-controlled legislature, would not only ban recognition of same-sex marriages but any kind of relationship recognition for gay couples. The amendment could also ban private companies based in the state from offering domestic partner benefits.


At United Church of Chapel Hill we signed a petition against this amendment.

Fight and sign!



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mazel Tov, David and William

From the "Wedding" section of, we honor David and William in their union:

David Knudson and William Hohengarten

David Mark Knudson and William Mark Hohengarten were married Saturday evening at the Long View Gallery in Washington. Nancy Hohengarten, a judge of the County Court of Travis County, Tex., and Mr. Hohengarten’s sister-in-law, officiated. Mr. Knudson’s father, the Rev. John O. Knudson, a retired Lutheran minister, took part in the ceremony.

Mr. Knudson (left), 49, is an independent architect in Washington. He graduated from Princeton, where he received a master’s in architecture.

He is a son of Marjorie and John Knudson of Dana Point, Calif. His mother retired as an elementary school teacher at Our Savior’s Lutheran School in San Clemente, Calif. His father retired as a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and was most recently a pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Dana Point.

Mr. Hohengarten, 50, is of counsel in Washington with the law firm Jenner & Block. He graduated from Reed College. He received a master’s and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Northwestern and a law degree from Yale.

He is a son of Florence Laird of Estancia, N.M., and the late Jack Hohengarten, and a stepson of Jeff Laird. His mother retired as a trust portfolio manager for NBD Bank in Evanston, Ill., and is the secretary of the Torrance County Archaeological Society in Estancia.

Mazel Tov!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

MD and Hawaii: Open for marriage (MD) and civil union (Hawaii)

Good news from MD (for marriage equality) and Hawaii (civil unions)!

Meanwhile NC Republicans continue to march out of step with the rest of the country.



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Federal DOMA Dying While NC is Trying to Show How Out of Touch We Are

Newsflash: Obama Administration is seeing that DOMA is unconstitutional. And who brought us DOMA but Clinton (oy!).

At the same time, NC legislators are pushing for an amendment to our constitution (we already have state DOMA) has this piece of garbage is floating away federally.

NC Republican legislators: out of touch, out of date, out of tune...and hopefully out of power in 2 years.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

New Hope Presbytery: Voting Aye 158 to No 118

40 votes separated us.

That was enough.

I was always scared to come out when we weren't allowed in the PCUSA.

Today, we are one step close to being out.

Thanks be to God.

More Presbyteries than ever in this process--including Presbyterians who've switched votes--have said Yes to LGBTQ people being ordained.



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NC versus Hawaii

This is fascinating: on the day that a State Senator of NC has started legislation that would outlaw marriage equality in the state of NC (amendment to the state constitution), Hawaii's legislature has passed civil unions!

Hawaii lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday to allow civil unions for same-sex couples, marking an end to what the governor called an "emotional process" for a longtime battleground in the gay rights movement.

Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office said he intends to sign the bill into law within 10 business days. Civil unions would begin Jan. 1, 2012, making the state the seventh in the nation to grant essentially the same rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself.

What a country!

The tide is turning toward marriage equality for all...and some Republican lawmakers will seem antiquated...again.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Alabama, A Wedding Announcement of a Same Sex Couple

Apparently, this is a first in a mainstream paper/media outlet in Alabama, and therefore, we rejoice! As I post the announcements in the, so I shall of this couple in Alabama: Mazel Tov to Jeremy Erdreich and Larry Slater of Birmingham, Alabama.

Click here to the link.



Monday, February 14, 2011

In Honor of Valentine's Day!

So this is what is happening across the nation on this weirdly "national day" of "hearts, chocolates, and champagne," in honor of a saint few people recognize:

New York Time op-ed section comes out "for us" in terms of equality of marriage;

Indiana legislature is going to vote against same sex marriage ( is the source of this);

Hawaii legislature voted to let us be in "civil union", even with our times of incivility;

Civil union bill entered in the legislative process in CO;

NH legislature debating whether or not to let us be in civil unions;

And the U.K. is about to let civil unions be celebrated in churches and other houses of faith.

What a day!



Friday, February 11, 2011

Hawaii House: Moving Forward with Civil Union

The House of Rep. in Hawaii are moving ahead (again) with a bill approving of civil unions for LGBTQ couples in the state of Hawaii:

After just 25 minutes of debate, the Hawaii House approved legislation that would create civil unions for gay and lesbian couples in the state, the Honolulu-based Fox affiliate KHON is reporting.

House Bill 444 was approved by a vote of 33-17. It would grant gay couples all the rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage, but call the commitment a civil union. The bill would also recognize legal gay marriages and civil unions performed elsewhere as civil unions.

It now goes to the Senate in Hawaii, and then when (!) approved, to a Governor who WILL sign it this time.

Moving forward, one state at a time. The great unraveling continues.



Mark & Louis, Congrats!

In following the wedded bliss of LGBTQ couples I caught the video of this couple on How romantic this couple is. And talk about multi-cultural diversity!? African American and Asian American. Fun!

Here's the wedding announcement:

Mark Edward Maher and Dr. Louis Hal Miller were married Friday in Greenwich, Conn. Richard F. Kriskey, a justice of the peace, officiated at Greenwich Town Hall.

Mr. Maher (left), 28, is in a yearlong public-interest law fellowship at New York Public Radio in New York, working on contracts, Federal Communications Commission compliance issues and intellectual property issues. It is sponsored by the New York law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where he was an associate until June 2010. Mr. Maher graduated from Columbia and received a law degree from Harvard. He is a son of Stephanie Maher and Leo Maher of New York.

Dr. Miller, 33, is a fellow in interventional cardiology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. He graduated summa cum laude from George Washington University, where he also received a medical degree. He is a son of Deborah Miller and Lloyd Miller of Bensalem, Pa.

Congrats, you two!