An Easter I wish I could do over


In my second year at college I hitchhiked from Niagara to Burlington, as I would do occasionally, just a few weeks before Easter. A cousin, her husband and their young family were happy to pamper me with good food and fun. On this particular weekend they also shared their enthusiasm with me about their conversion to Christianity – more of a conversion from the liberal, mainstream Christianity we knew as kids to the ‘born again’ variety.

I was of an age, and at a time in my life, when I was susceptible to suggestions of my unworthiness – not from them directly, to be clear, but in the pamphlets they gave me from Campus Crusade for Christ. I did not realize, at the time, that I could have discussed my troubling homosexual awakening with my brother so, upon my return to my shared apartment on Sunday evening, it was one of the things I prayed to be rid of as I followed the instructions in the brochure (now available as a web page but the illustrations remain exactly the same.)

My prayer was sincere, including my wish to be rid of my homosexual thoughts, and I’d like to think that my eventual acceptance of myself and my coming out, were God’s answer to those prayers – just not the ones I had expected.

Anyway, feeling the excitement of a new convert I went to visit the pastor of a church which I had been attending. Excited by my news, of course, he told me that there was to be a baptismal service at the evening service on Easter Sunday, just a few weeks away. This was to be a full immersion baptism, with several others, wading into a tank of water at the front of the church.

News of how I was to spend Easter did not go over well at home. By then Mom and Dad had learned that Craig was gay and was quietly involved, nearly silent of necessity, in the church’s deliberations over the ordination of gays and lesbians. (They wisely chose not to disclose Craig’s sexual orientation to me at this time!) I can only imagine how upsetting my decision was for them. It’s something I regret to this day although Craig assured me, when I eventually did come out, that he understood where I was coming from.

Holding up the positive, I understand the theology of the back-to-basics, evangelical Christians. From their point of view it’s simple, matter-of-fact, and certain – just the way they like it. (I still have a weakness for Christian music which has come a long way since the heyday of gospel quartets.) The cyclical “the Bible tells me so” argument is not subject to much, if any, interpretation. It stands up to criticism and discussion by simply not engaging in it in any way that the Bible-as-authority is disputed. I actually find more meaning in the story-as-metaphor or allegory. The burden of proof is lifted and the underlying message can come forward.

When my pastor, in 1981, publicly supported Toronto police raids of several bath-houses I was really angry. I traveled to Toronto for several public rallies against the raids and soon came out to Mom and Dad and, in turn, to Craig. Far from unforgiving of my past denunciation of homosexuality they were all very supportive. Craig understood, as do I, that some of the most virulent homophobes are people who haven’t dealt with their own sexuality in some way.

So, rather than dwell on that disruptive Easter of my youth, I remember the great holidays spent with Craig for the twenty-five years plus we were able to enjoy as gay brothers and I look forward to spending this weekend with Mom and Craig’s partner Claude. I hope Claude’s tulip bulbs at Craig’s grave survived the squirrels.

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2 thoughts on “An Easter I wish I could do over

  1. From Facebook’s comments on this post:

    Rhonda Skene likes this.

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    Betty Ann Rutledge
    Kenn, I don’t always comment on your blog but I want you to know that I always read what you post. It is always so authentically human. Sometimes moving, often funny, always raw and real. I’m glad that I know you even though we don’t see each other in the “real world” anymore. Happy Easter.

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    Kenn Chaplin
    Thanks very much BA. I don’t know why blogging has been so much easier than writing a diary, but it has! Hope you are surrounded with love away from Canada this week.

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    Barbara Ginter Gray
    Kenn,

    What a great and touching post. I could feel my stomach tensing and tears in my eyes. I am sorry you had such a troubling experience.
    I am also sorry that I used to be one of those that would have judged you (though mot anymore). I guess we live and learn but I can’t seem to come to terms with forgiving myself for how judgmental I used to be. Your blog has let me see homosexuals as so beautifully and wonderfully human, whereas I did not before. I saw homosexuals as someone that needed to be “saved’ so you would not go to “hell”. I am ashamed of the way I felt, so utterly ashamed. I thank you so much for your blog. Your words have helped me see more than you know.
    I wish you a joyous Easter Kenn…

    God Speed.

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    Betty Ann Rutledge
    Barbara, I don’t know you, but as a lesbian and recovering Catholic, your words heal me. Thank you.

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    Barbara Ginter Gray
    You are so welcome Betty Ann. Your words in turn heal me.
    Namaste.

    —————————————

    Kenn Chaplin
    Wow! Thanks to you both!

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