Past blog entries a doting son doesn’t want to lose

While my day-to-day blogging has now completely moved to this address there are some things from the old place that I want to bring here.

This is one of them:

St. Paul’s United Church,
Perth, Ontario
April 2, 2006
Panel Discussion presentation by Madeline Chaplin

I have been asked here today to share my story as a mother of two gay sons, one a United Church minister ordained in 1980, the other a journalism graduate.

But first I’d like to say I have very strong ties to St. Paul’s. My parents joined this church in 1925, the year of church union. I grew up here, attending Sunday School, Young Peoples’, and choir, was married in this church and our first son was baptized here. And I have been back for twenty years.

When our first son came out to us it was the late 1970s. Our second son came out four or five years later. They were unaware of each others’ situations.

Our emotions were all over the map. (1) Profound sadness for what they must have gone through as teenagers and for how we all would be treated. (2) Fear of what we did not understand and of what other people would think. We had great concern for our older son’s career as he was a year or so away from ordination. (3) Confusion. Where were we to turn for support? ( although our son had already told threee close friends, all United Church ministers and good friends of ours’.) There’s a saying that when children come out of the closet, their parents go in. (4) Loneliness. Their two sisters were younger and it was my husband and I with our son against the world – or so it seemed at the time. (5) Pride. We also felt honoured that they both could be honest, first of all with themselves and then with us. (6) The one emotion we did not have was anger. That came later when we had to face others’ reactions. I don’t recall all that was said the night we were first told but I know that we did say, “your friends will always be welcome in our home.”

After days and hours of struggle and many tears, it suddenly dawned on us! They are the same great kids that they were before we knew.

Our second son had always been in the church but while away at school found himself in a more fundamentalist church where he “tried to pray it away.” Later he joined the Metropolitan Community Church which welcomed gays and lesbians. But he continued to feel he had a right to be in the United Church. He finally found an affirming church in Toronto where his talents are welcomed. The question he is asked most often by non-Christian friends in the gay community is “Why are you still a Christian? Why would you go to church?”

At the time our son came out to us I was teaching music in the local elementary school and as classes came into the music room I found myself looking at the children and wondering which ones might have to go through the same difficult time. Just three years ago the mother of one of those same children phoned me one day from Montreal seeking advice.

During this time I also sat in a staff room where so-called “gay jokes” were sometimes told. We should be so careful! We never know what the person next to us is going through.

When we told my 83 year old mother, she said, “Well, I love them anyway.” We also had a great deal of support from the people in our son’s congregation as he gradually came out to the folks there, a few friends at a time, after he’d been there for several years. God had surely placed him in a special place.

Our older son has a caring partner of 15 years. When he visited his partner’s family, the fact that he was gay was not important or that he was an anglophone ( he speaks French). They were more puzzled by the fact that he was a Protestant! Our younger son is single. When I visit their homes they are like any other with the same responsibilities and concerns of any family.

What a sense of relief as we gradually told extended family and close friends and lost no close friend as a result. However, silence seems to be the reaction from other people who cannot accept our situation.

Our greatest source of strength has come from our firm conviction that as Christians this could be our only response. Our support has come from many people in the wider church community of which we have always been a part.

I leave you with two questions:

What will your reaction be if or when a child or grandchild of your’s gives you this news? Will they trust you enough to tell you?

We bring our children to Sunday School and church and continually tell them how much God loves them and how much we love them. Then, when they are older and some discover a different sexual orientation, do we say, ” Oh, sorry. God doesn’t love you anymore.”?

I don’t think so.

Pissed Off Housewife reminds me of Mom – not shy to ask the big questions of life, unaccepting of pat answers, independent, resourceful.

Right now POH is going through a lot which, again, I can identify with.



10 thoughts on “Past blog entries a doting son doesn’t want to lose

  1. Devin Johnston


    I’m pretty sure that WordPress provides some import options located under Manage -> Import


  2. Yes, they do indeed Devin, but…

    “Howdy! This importer allows you to import posts and comments from your Old Blogger account into your WordPress blog.

    Please note that this importer does not work with new Blogger (using your Google account).

    Thanks 🙂

  3. When I grow up I wanna be like your Mom!

    I’m sure that there will be conversations with my children where I experience disappointment and sadness for what could have been, what I could have done, or known… dreams dashed or modified.

    I’m sure that I’ve already put my foot in my mouth with my children but it’s a pretty big mouth so there’s room to wiggle an apology out with great sincerity.

    I never realized how easy it is to be Jewish… we’re SO liberal, sometimes too liberal for me but it’s a lot easier.

  4. Hey man:

    Hope your transition between websites goes smoothly…I bet it’s a nightmare!

    Thanks for that speech by your mother. I forwarded it to PFLAG people here to read.


  5. “I never realized how easy it is to be Jewish… we’re SO liberal, sometimes too liberal for me but it’s a lot easier.”

    Funny, that’s what (liberal) Protestants say to (recovering) Catholics.

    I will always believe that our greatest hope is to learn from one another’s experiences, adopt what works for us, and do our small part to make it easier for those coming along behind us. (That’s probably something Mom taught me, too.) 🙂

  6. What a great mother you have.If only all kids that came out had this kind of support.I love the line “They were more puzzled that he was a protestant”.
    Reminds me of a friend whose father-in-law would eat Christmas and other holiday meals in the barn with the cows rather than sit at the table with a non-Catholic.I wonder where he would have eaten his meals if my friend had been gay.
    I have fond memories of you and Craig,your parents and Aunt Lily coming to the farm at Lancaster.You two were just “too cute” as Grandma MacPherson used too say.I don`t remember the girls.I think one was a baby and last one wasn`t born yet.
    It sounds like Craig did wonderful things with his life and touched many people.I`m glad I found this blog.

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