Gay Dad Life

The Southern Baptist Minister is Gay

Brent Cheatham (photo above, left) answers the phone late in the evening on his way home from rehearsal. He’s performing in a community theater production of “Les Misérables" this coming week and breathlessly details the costume work he’s been finishing up for opening day — including a little side project of a bowtie and pocket square for himself.

The son of a Texan Southern Baptist minister, Brent learned to sew from his mother — which landed him tonight’s task of sewing French army uniforms for the play. “My mother didn’t make me gay, but she sure set me up for it well,” he jokes.

Just three years ago, Brent’s life was very different. He was a married man of 25 years with two adult children and an adopted daughter in elementary school. He had followed in his father’s footsteps and served as a Southern Baptist minister for more than two decades before changing careers to work as a financial advisor.

Brent says he always knew he was gay. In his church, though, that’s not what they called it. Instead, he learned to call his attraction to men “same-sex feelings” and try to simply ignore, minimize and hide them.

“I know there are many other ministers in this world that are still living in the box I lived in and they are struggling day by day so that nobody finds out they have ‘same-sex feelings,’” he says.

Years before his marriage ended, the veneer on Brent’s outwardly perfect life began to crack. He’d believed his feelings could just be shoved away. Now, he found himself living two lives. “I discovered that there was the realm of the secret world that even other pastors were living in,” he says.

When Brent finally came clean with his wife, it wasn’t entirely by choice.

The two fought constantly — often about sex and his lack of interest. “My deception was just kind of unraveling and I was just tired,” he says. “She finally asked me, point-blank, ‘Do you like men?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I do.’”

From that moment Brent spiraled emotionally. He sought help at a behavioral clinic.

“The whole thing was, with the counselors, to have them help me deal with the ‘same sex feelings’ and harbor them — kind of put them away. That’s kind of what I was taught: Just turn it off. Like a light switch. Put it away.”

That was his goal, anyway. Instead, his clinical psychologist looked at him and said, “Brent, you’re so unhappy.” He asked him what his life might be like if he lived as an openly gay man.

“Well, that would just change my life completely,” Brent recalls saying.

That conversation proved to be a turning point for Brent. Three years later, his life is completely changed. He is openly gay and living on his own. He sings in the choir at a church that accepts him and performs in community theater. He’s not trying to be exceptionally gay, he says, he’s just being Brent. “That’s who I am and no-one’s surprised.”

“It feels very good,” he says. I feel very empowered from day to day to be myself. “The hard part for me was really redirecting life in general — figuring who I am, what I am with my family, in life in general. It took me a long time to say, ‘I’m gay.”

He continues to struggle to mend relationships with his ex-wife and children, who felt deeply betrayed by his deception.

“I basically lied to them for 25 years about who I was,” he says. “Building that trust back is just very difficult.”

His family also continues in their conservative Southern Baptist faith and both his parents and eldest children disapprove of his choice to live openly. Brent has struggled to be transparent with them about major changes in his life, like moving in with a partner, for fear of their judgment. Those additional deceptions have hindered rebuilding their trust.

Still, he’s not giving up. Slowly, he says, they’re muddling through and regaining their relationships.

“My parents could have told me, ‘Never come back to our house again,’ but they didn’t. I thank God every day for that,” he says. His relationship with his older kids has slowly improved since he returned to living on his own after a two-year relationship.

His youngest daughter, Maddie, brings much-needed reprieve from the fight for forgiveness from his other family members. She’ll be 12 this month and has a close bond with her father.

“There are more good days than hard days at this time in my life,” Brent says, “which is good to say.”

Show Comments ()
Gay Dad Life

Gong Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time.

Today we're celebrating, alongside our families, the Chinese New Year! As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time, what they do to celebrate, and how they're instilling these traditions in their kids. Here are some of their responses.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Life

A Gay Dad Wonders: What Will the 'Roaring Twenties' Bring?

Jim Joseph says he's looking forward to "moving forward in 2020" and in the decade to come!

The Roaring Twenties are upon us, and with the new decade comes great anticipation.

I remember as a kid that whenever a new decade came, it felt like "out with the old and in with the new." It seemed like pop culture and the way of doing things suddenly shifted. Witness 1979 into 1980 and the dawn of a new era in music, fashion, entertainment, and culture. Same with 1989 into 1990. Bam!

As I got older and started my own journey of growth, I started tracking decades by the milestones I had hit during each of the ten-year increments.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Life

Gay Dads Tell Us Their Parenting Goals for 2020

Some are hoping to expand their families — others are hoping to keep the members they already have alive!

We asked our community on Instagram what their parenting goals were for 2020. Here are some of their responses.

Keep reading...
Change the World

Miami Tourism Board Releases Vacation Guide for LGBTQ Families

Miami isn't just about circuit parties! The LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide showcases many options for queer parents, too.

As gay people, it can be difficult to find vacation spots that are LGBTQ-friendly out of the normal travel "fruit loop" — New York, Mykonos, San Francisco; repeat. For those of us with kids, the Venn diagram of destinations that are both queer and kid friendly can seem practically non-existent.

Fortunately, that's starting to change as the tourism industry realizes that LGBTQ families are a growing segment of vacationers. One city to quickly pick up on this trend is Miami. While the gays have long flocked to Miami for party weekends, the city has also recently noticed an uptick in the number of LGBTQ visitors who are parents. In response, Miami's tourism board release a guide, LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide, that includes loads of options for queer parents and their kids. Amid Miami's legendary circuit parties, it turns out, are tons of family friendly things to do — like the Museum of Science, an eco-adventure theme park, and other kid-focused events all year long.

Who knew?

"When I came onboard as Director of LGBTQ Marketing a little over a year ago, I found that our LGBTQ messaging was centered around our annual events," said Dan Rios, who works with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Massive parties like the White Party and Aqua Girl are a central part of the city's LGBTQ offerings, he said, but he was also worried the city was "developing a reputation solely as a party destination. "I want to diversify that message to highlight everything else that Greater Miami has to offer."

Hence the city's family-friendly guide that includes offerings within "art and culture, dining, beaches, fitness," Dan said. "We have unique and amazing family attractions that we had been promoting to our general audiences for decades. I saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to introduce our attractions to LGBTQ families, and an opportunity to further promote our attractions -- it was a win-win."

Dan said the Bureau is also in the midst of a campaign that will prominently feature LGBTQ parents within different travel destinations throughout the city, which will be featured throughout both LGBTQ and mainstream websites, publications and advertising.

We applaud the effort to reach out to LGBTQ families, and hope more cities follow Miami's lead! Be sure to check out the guide here.


Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

Keep reading...
Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse