Moving

On Being a Gay Parent

by Brett Webb-Mitchell    
Published: August 6, 2011 in On Being a Gay Parent

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. : :