Mother’s Day is not until May 14 but my gratitude cannot wait until then. I understand that my experience does not match that of everyone here, and so I acknowledge that my love and pride might unintentionally unleash pain in others. I entrust that pain to God’s love which, in my experience in other areas of my life, is much more than sufficient. I also offer this as hope to those same folks, hope that the hearts of your loved ones are one day changed.
Recalling that Mom had just been in the hospital last week at this time, imagine my surprise, delight, pride and – sure – nervousness as Mom told me last night about a very special project she is participating in at her church.
Background: The congregation of Mom’s small faith community, in a small town (pop. 6000), has been meeting in various committees to decide how to respond to the new reality in Canada – same-sex marriage. (Although the new government is rumbling about at least appearing to change course, it’s doubtful our courts would let that happen. I also recognize that there is not unanimity on this issue – neither within the gay community nor the gay Christian community.)
Before the congregation decides what to do at the local level (and they are free to refuse any marriage on religious grounds) they are bringing these various committee discussions to a full and open congregational meeting. Mom has been asked to share her experience of having two – yes two – gay sons, both still involved in the Church. (Craig and Claude, being of mixed faiths, do not seem to be altar-bound and I am, alas, single.) In short, this meeting would have, and will, probably go a lot beyond the legalese of “Do we or do we not want to marry same-sex couples” and into matters of Gay 101.
I am just so proud of my Mom!
As we talked last night, and she probably took lots of notes , we recalled how – when Craig came out – supportive people, including church ministers past and present, had been put in place to talk to Mom and Dad. This was an enormous help. Mom also observed last night how when I came out about four years later – 25 years ago this year! – that, although so much groundwork had been done, it still startled Mom and Dad that I, too, would “have to deal with this”.
Continuing our review last night, Mom remembered how important it has been to have a national church magazine article I wrote – about fifteen years ago now – to refer to over the years. That article was a tribute to my family – how Mom had just recently survived necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease), how Dad was recovering from a major heart attack, how two sons were both gay and living with HIV, and how two sisters just chalked it all up to the “unconditional love” we have always been taught by Mom and Dad.
I mention the article only to show that Mom and Dad have not been “in the closet” since its publication (with their consent) and, yet, they have often been met with awkward silence when it comes to discussing Craig and me. That has changed, slowly but surely, over the years as they’ve found out who their friends really are. I cannot think of any that has drifted away, and all greet me with love whenever I visit Mom’s church – no more than when Dad died four years ago.
For years I have told Mom and Dad how much of an anomaly they are; that so many queer folk are rejected by their families, their church communities, etc. This is something they have never understood although, as people confide in Mom (such as a former member of the choir Mom used to conduct who spoke about the difficulties her gay son is facing), Mom is seeing how many people do not experience the love and acceptance that my brother and I do.
So, as my seventy-five year old Mom tries to gather her thoughts for that meeting in early April, I lift her witness of love to the glory of the loving God she taught us about!