Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Interviewed yesterday on ABC-TV11 here in the RDU-Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.

"Overwhelmed" is what I said to Joel Brown.

Here is more on my reaction to today's incredible news.

And, yes, NC is going to change its amended state constitution because it will be found to be unconstitutional.  It is a moral rather than legal amendment.

Enjoy, Brett

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Immigration, Binationals, and a Whole Lot of Mess with Our Lives

While I was in Scotland and England, I relished the opportunity to be out and gay.  There was no sense of shame, hate, guilt, fear...nothing.  Couples of men and women with their husband, wives, significant others, sauntered down the street, kissed in public.

What I'm aware is that the immigration laws of other countries--where being LGBTQ is just all right--welcome binational couples, unlike the US.

Things have got to change.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Getting Gay Married and Gay Divorced

One of my last blogs from

On my Facebook page, a friend posted a picture of two polished gold rings in a black velvet jewelry box, with the message: “Wedding bands are here. Only three months till the big day.”
The two friends who are getting married have lived with one another for about a year now, and they are also in the process of bringing a child into their lives and the world through a surrogacy program. They’ve bought a house in the suburbs together, are enjoying life with a new dog; two individual lives are merging to become a family.

The next day, I was surprised to see a friend who, without earlier notice, moved from New York City to Durham, NC. He had recently moved back after getting a divorce from his husband. They were married for over a decade. Though it was a long-distance relationship for most of their married lives, they recently moved together into a wonderful apartment in Manhattan. All was going well for this prosperous and fun-loving couple — or so we all thought. Sadly, like many people in married relationships — same-sex and opposite-sex alike — they grew apart from one another. Differences emerged in their lives that made their being together a nightmare rather than a dream. My friend is a father of two adult sons, and they were pulled into their dad’s divorce. Both men hired lawyers. Court dates were set. There was talk of alimony. A once-romantic relationship came to a bitter end. Each of the men is picking up the fragments of what “once was,” and both are moving on with their individual lives.

More here:

Friday, June 21, 2013

From Column/Blog: "Going to the Chapel...Just Not Quite Yet

Here you go!

I like weddings. I'm also very knowledgeable about weddings, which comes from various first-hand experiences. I've played the role of guest; relative to bride or groom; groomsman; best man; was a groom; wedding coordinator; and organist or pianist. I am most often the celebrant of weddings as a Presbyterian minister. My parents were married for over 50 years. Like them, I married my best friend from high school days. We celebrated 21 years together, welcoming two wonderful children into our lives. As a pastor and seminary professor I taught people about the importance of the rituals of weddings, in which we embody the blessings of God while recognizing the blessings are themselves discovered in the rituals.
All that changed when I came out of my gay closet. Our marriage soon came to an end when I gathered up the courage to live honestly. Soon after, my partner Dean and I bought a house. We've lived together for 17 years. Over time, my children, Dean, their mom, and I have spent years celebrating holidays, birthdays, and graduation. This was all done without a wedding or being married. We cannot wed because North Carolina's constitution defines marriage as between a man and woman.
Living outside of marriage yet being in a significant long-term relationship is like being a visitor in an unknown country with a strange language: are we partners or lovers? We're not husbands. On top of that, an unexpected offshoot of living outside marriage is that my children are hesitant about getting married. Recent studies show that many children of LGBTQ parents are finding themselves reluctant to get married. In an article by Alexis Coe in The Atlantic Monthly, she cited research by Abbie Goldberg of Clark University showing that many young straight adults had "complicated" feelings and reactions about getting married overall, all of them sensitive towards their same-sex parents' inability to marry.

For more, here's the link: Blogger Now!

Making a move here: I'm now going to be blogging on LGBTQ parent material/issues and religion/issues of faith on as one of their bloggers rather than  I'm still a columnist with Q Notes of the Carolinas.

More to come!



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Coming Out" and "Closets": Historic Phrases with a Modern Punch

Coming out started with debutante balls from the 19th century, and "closets" was bantered about LGBTQ community since the 60's:

The terms “coming out” and “closet” are bandied about in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) circles and among straight allies, without thought as to where these terms come from. I know that I use the metaphor of “the gay closet” in my writing when I explain the process that I went through in claiming the person I am. What’s funny is I don’t remember where I got the language for talking about it. Yet, I knew full well the process of slowly coming out, keeping one foot in the gay closet, and the other foot outside of the gay closet. And as I “came out” of the “gay closet,” I was not only re-orientating my life as an out gay man, but the lives of those around me. At first, I took it for granted that I would understand myself differently as a man who is a dad, pastor, and writer who is gay. I had not taken into account the rest of my family and friends, who would also experience a change in how they viewed me and how they, in turn, viewed themselves.
In the process of coming out of the closet, I first had to experience the re-orientation of myself with myself. I actually would look at my face some mornings and quietly say “I’m Brett, and I’m gay,” hoping no one else, especially my then-wife, heard me say those words. In dialogue with a good therapist, and growing more comfortable and resolute that this was a necessary step in my life as I tried to live truthfully, I then focused on coming out to my then-wife. This was necessary because she was my first and most significant relationship. Next, along with my then-wife, we both sat down with our children who were very young at the time. (My daughter was 7 and my son was 4 years old.)

More here:

Family Memberships that INCLUDE Our Families

Recently, the local YMCA — of which I am a member — has been considering merging with another larger YMCA in the area. One of the stumbling blocks in the talks about merging has been family membership. Why family membership? Because many family memberships, which offer a great discount to cash-strapped families, are based on the idea that a family is one man and one woman, with no variation. I was surprised that there were no other options for my family of two men and children. “Name of wife/mother” and “name of husband/father” were the only blanks offered on the form. After a series of discussions over a period of months, the YMCAs reached a compromise, simply putting the words “parent” where gender language was used before.
My family is not the only one confronted by this legal form of discrimination. The Hands-on Children’s Museum in Jacksonville, Fla. used a similar form that specified that a family was one mom and one dad. There was no space for “partner,” “moms,” or “dads,” let alone a place for aunts, uncles, grandparents, or godparents. If the one mom included the other same-sex partner as a “friend,” there was an additional cost.

More here:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hospital Visits Made Easier for LGBTQ Couples/Parents

From column I write:
Roger Gorley and Allen Mansell’s loving, normal life as a same-sex couple was radically changed in the past few weeks when Allen went into the Kansas City, Missouri’s Research Medical Center to deal with his depression. Roger and Allen went into the hospital with all the legal papers — otherwise known as power of attorney — needed for a same-sex couple when one of the individuals in the relationship goes into a hospital.
Unlike straight couples, same-sex couples need to have paper to prove who has power to decide on the medical care of the other person, when he or she is not capable of making a medical decision. Allen’s brother, Lee Mansell, did not care about the papers that the couple had signed, giving each other the power to make the decisions in the hospital. Instead, Lee had Roger forcibly removed from the hospital, because Allen’s family is disapproving of Allen and Roger’s relationship. Roger fought back against the personnel of the hospital and Allen’s brother as he struggled to stay by his partner Allen’s side. Roger then was told that he was not to step foot into the hospital again. A lawsuit has now been filed against the Medical Center, with a fund being raised for attorney’s costs.

More here:

Fathers' Day cards come into vogue!

From my website blog:
I will never forget my first Father’s Day as an out, gay dad looking for a card that would fit my new identity. The year was 1999, and my first foray into my local Hallmark card store proved, well, fruitless. Granted, they had plenty of Father’s Day cards. There was a card with a picture of a dad washing the car with sons; some cards had a dad fishing with sons and daughters; and there were other cards that had dads getting a tie in a gift box from his wife with some kind of comic line when you opened the card.
Venturing forth to other card shops, looking among all the cards from various companies that stocked these shops, I found no card that appropriately captured the theme of how normal it is for children to have two gay dads celebrating Father’s Day in modern American society. The card industry — along with newspapers, magazines, movies, television, music, creative visual arts, and other cultural venues that feed the American psyche — had established that heterosexuality was the norm, the gold standard of parenting, and all other forms were an aberration, if not deviant. After all, Mother’s and Father’s Day cards with two lesbian moms and two gay dads simply didn’t make card companies money. Feeling alone and dejected, again, I simply went home and made my partner Dean a “Dads’ Day” card.

Link to article

The Hoax of Converion or Reparative Therapy

From column I write:

“Would anyone choose to be gay in this homophobic society?” It is a line that I’ve heard muttered in dead seriousness, as well as a comic opening line by more than one lesbian or gay comedian. Regardless of who said it, the truth should be self-evident: no one would choose to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) in this modern society, which — while making fast changes — has a history of discriminating against us. Underneath this question, the not-so-subtle proposition is raised: that being LGBTQ is a nurtured lifestyle that can be changed, since it is learned consciously or unconsciously, rather than a lifestyle that one inherits at birth. And if being LGBTQ is learned behavior, then LGBTQ can also be un-learned; in other words, a person can be made straight if he or she tries hard enough to change.
This debate of “nature versus nurture” is something I know well personally. When I was first aware of being gay, attracted to other young men my age — even prior to taking up my closet and later when living in it for 30 years — I tried aversive measures upon myself. For example, I would say a string of prayers, asking for God’s forgiveness if I looked at a man sexually. Or I would write out 100 times on lined paper: “I am not gay.” I knew other people who actually practiced cutting their forearm skin with razors, trying to link the pain of the cut with actually looking at a man. What many of us did was try to talk ourselves into not looking at other men or relate to men in any other way than friendship, with simple handshakes but no close body embraces or hugs. Counseling, prayer, perhaps some other aversive techniques could push the inner urge to be with men out of my life. Underneath it all was the assumption that if I didn’t act on my impulses to be with a man, then I was not gay. My desire to be with a man intellectually, spiritually, and physically — as other men are with the opposite sex — was simply something that I could grow out of or “un-learn,” if I tried hard enough.

More here:

The Gay Prom Date that Went Viral

From column:
An over-hyped rite of passage in modern American society is the high school prom pics. Proms—or promenades—began in the 18th century among the elite classes or British society, in which people would more or less “come out” as mature men and women in society. Through the decades, proms transformed and morphed into an egalitarian middle-class teenage ritual among the high schools across this country.  Being a pretty good dancer and an extrovert, I found myself going to proms all of my three years of high school.  I bought the corsage, showed up on time at my date’s house, and then there was the obligatory pic by the parents of the cute couple in gown and tux. I never dated any of the girls. We simply went as friends.  My children also went to their proms, with the obligatory pictures taken, having fun in dating late into the night, going to a 24-hour diner for breakfast at 1 in the morning.
Because I know this ritual so well—both having participated in it, and watching my grown children go through the same thing rituals—I was caught by the picture of the so-called “cutest couple” who showed up at the Carmel High School (California) prom. Dylan Meehan and Brad Taylor were not only at the prom, but were voted the cutest couple in their high school. Their friend Chelsea Blaney posted their pics from the year book and their prom photos on Tumblr, and the pics went viral. Both Dylan and Brad met when they were visiting Brown University as high school juniors. They came out soon after to their respective parents, and have been dating ever since.  Both young men, who currently have a 4.0 GPA, are going to New York University in the fall, studying theater.

More here:

Forward Together, Not One Step Back!


After a great pilgrimage in the UK, I'm back to catch up on the LGBTQ parenting news front.  Here's my essay from Q Notes about the rallies in Raleigh against the policies of the NC General Assembly.

“Freedom, freedom, freedom in the morning, freedom in the evening,” sang the impromptu chorus of women and men outside of the golden doors of the North Carolina House of Representatives in Raleigh’s Legislative Building for three Mondays in a row. “Forward, Together, Not One Step Back!” we shouted between those who would be arrested and the many who supported them. Seventeen people placed themselves in front of the golden doors, holding banners and posters like “Expand Medicaid!” “Freedom!” “Justice!” on April 29. The next week 27 people obstructed entry into the N.C. House of Representatives room. On May 13, 49 people were booked for violating the law. To date, almost 100 people were arrested, with more Mondays of protest coming. All those who practiced civil disobedience, e.g., to get arrested, went to a 3:30 p.m. training event at Davie St. Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, to learn what to do in terms of being arrested. Doctors, lawyers, professors, clergy, seminary leaders, Raging Grannies; able-bodied and those with disabilities; black, white and Hispanic; old and young; gay, lesbian and straight; rich and poor; grandparents and young parents; and college and high school educated. All held their heads high as they were cuffed and led off the premises by the authorities. Each group of people proudly stood their ground. I was part of the chorus of support. I came to witness this proud American tradition of civil disobedience that goes back to the writings of none other than Henry David Thoreau of “Walden Pond” fame. I also witnessed the massive show of force of State Troopers and Capitol Police. The police took pictures of us as we witnessed our sisters and brothers soon being arrested, taken one by one by large State Troopers and Capitol Police to a waiting bus outside. Plastic handcuffs were placed upon all of those who would not move out of the doorway. “But this is the people’s house!” objected Rev. Vernon Tyson in his 80s.
What is behind all this? The General Assembly has awakened the silent majority concerned about the legislative agenda of the Republicans who are now in power of all branches of government for the first time since the Civil War. There have been cuts in Medicaid, affecting 500,000 people and their families; cuts in unemployment compensation; cuts in educational programs from pre-K to universities; and laws loosening gun control and smoking policies on college campuses. One legislator wanted to make N.C. a “Christian state.” These changes in policy affect all of us regardless of race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic background; sex, gender, sexual orientation; individuals, couples or families. Why Mondays? This is the first day and hours of the opening of the General Assembly for the week. The Rev. William Barber and the N.C. NAACP calls these planned acts of civil disobedience “Moral Mondays,” in which those of us who object, on moral grounds, the actions of this General Assembly, are making it clear that we are not consenting to their draconian laws silently. We are voicing and practicing our constitutional right to say “No. We disagree and demand to be heard and have our opinion taken seriously.” What Rev. Barber did was take a moribund and dispirited, alienated group of Democrats, progressive voices and independents, and give a sense of urgency that was previously missing. As an out gay parent, standing alongside, witnessing and chanting support for justice with the broad spectrum of Carolinians, I am buoyed at the new sense of esprit de corps. The day before, as I was driving to Raleigh, a moment of hope in the future was sparked hearing that Minnesota is now a state where marriage equality rules. As I chanted later that evening, I believe that we North Carolinians will one day soon be a state just like Minnesota, with the support of this diverse, marvelous community gathered together in one voice: “Forward, Together, Not One Step Back!” : :

Here's the link: