National Coming Out Day 2017


It’s October 11. In the United States, at least, it’s National Coming Out Day. I know of no such celebration in Canada but we’ve been ahead of the pack in most ways having to do with lgbtq-2 liberation.

For me, Coming Out Day was sometime in February of 1981. I had come crashing out to protest the police raids on Toronto bath houses, so I thought it best to come out to my parents, lest they see me on TV from one of the many protest marches.

I wrote them a letter.  I wish I had saved  a copy because, if I may say so, it was a model of a coming out letter!

Mom and Dad called me once they had received it, reassuring me that their love had not changed, and thanking me for my honesty. They also revealed that my brother, Craig, had come out to them a few years earlier but he had not disclosed to me, for good reason, ,as I had been involved with an evangelical church while at college.

AIDS was already doing its preliminary work, silently infecting people oblivious to its eventual horror.  I was just sowing my oats, wild oats at that.

So most of my gay life has been lived in the shadow of HIV/AIDS, first other people’s, then my own. This has defined my activism and much of my life.

But I was just gay first.

 

 

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Insubordination? (Probably.)


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The Body Politic excerpt (PDF)

I Googled my name today, for the hell of it, and came across this article I wrote for the June, 1986 edition of “The Body Politic”, Pink Triangle Press’s forerunner to Xtra!  I was up to my arm-pits involved in this using the pseudonym David Coleman to disguise myself to my employer, CKTB, and talk-show host John Michael, the defendants in this case!

Usually no fan of John Michael, for some reason I was listening the morning he started going on an anti-gay, anti-AIDS tirade.  I had the presence of mind to slap a cassette tape into my landlord’s radio-tape deck.  That tape, and the formal copy provided by the radio station later, was the basis of the case to the CRTC.

I wrote the letter to the CRTC, inserting transcribed comments which I thought would carry the greatest weight. These were exciting times.  Warren Hartman and I worked hard, me speaking as David Coleman and Warren as his out, proud, gay old self! Now don’t get me wrong.  I was out at work, and so I’m sure there were suspicions I was involved, but I couldn’t use my real name and plot against my employer, now could I? It wasn’t so much of being in any closet of my construct as much as it was muck-raking anonymously.  I was to use the pseudonym a few more times before leaving St. Catharines.

Susan Mabey to receive 2017 Craig Chaplin Memorial Award


“A Christian who happens to be a lesbian”, Susan Mabey’s is a name which has been more than incidental in the long struggle for LGBT inclusion in the United Church of Canada.  Cited by the Chaplin Award committee for her recent bridge building, even as a self-described ‘lightning rod’, while the multi-ethnic Toronto school, where she teaches Grade 2, struggled with the new provincially-mandated health and sex education program, Susan drew national attention of a different kind in the early 1980s when she was refused ordination in the United Church of Canada due to her sexual orientation. (She very quickly established herself as a minister of Christos Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto at a time when the largely-LGBT congregation was beginning to be devastated by AIDS illness and deaths.)

Susan’s 1999 Doctor of Ministry thesis was entitled “When the Valley of the Shadow is Littered with Bones: Ministry in the Midst of Multiple Bereavements”.

See Shower of Stoles Project

The Craig Chaplin Memorial Award was established following the death of my brother in 2007. It is meant to lift up the outstanding vocation of an openly lgbtq person. Susan will be presented with the award as part of the Convocation of United Theological College, in Montreal this May, the tenth anniversary of Craig’s death.

“UTC is honoured to name Rev. Mabey’s long and courageous commitment to justice and inclusion, compassion and vital pastoral presence, and in particular, to the ministry she now lives as a teacher.”

Rev. James Scott will be recognized through the conferring of the degree Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa).  Rev. Scott, the United Church of Canada’s General Council Officer for Residential Schools, will also be the convocation speaker.  The College “recognizes in particular Rev. Scott’s profound commitment to indigenous concerns and his work with the Church in preparation for, and response to, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

UTC’s convocation exercises will be held at Roxboro United Church, 116, rue Cartier in Roxboro, Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 2 pm.  Roxboro, which will officially become an Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Canada on May 7, is the congregation of Rev. Darryl Macdonald who, in 2009, was the second recipient of the Chaplin Award.

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It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day – let’s review


It is a measure of self-compassion on this Bell Let’s Talk Day when I can slow down and remind myself of where I am and where I’ve come from.

I have a long history of, and recovery from, substance abuse – chiefly, but not solely, alcohol – begun shortly after a period of sexual abuse in my adolescence – which followed an elementary school teacher experience with hell.

Since I was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1989 I have been treated for depression, and later bipolar II which is treated with medications and talk therapy.

I have been through a lot but I’m always gratified to hear of other people’s struggles on days like this.

Let’s Talk!

Meanderings of a mental health client in good company


10 years ago this month, I was writing about my mental health, Andre Gagnon and Emile Nelligan – still fascinations all!

My journey with AIDS...and more!

Would it be much of a surprise, even to the casual reader, that I am a mental health client? I have been since soon after my conclusive HIV diagnosis in 1990, although I wish now that I had sought such accompaniment long before then.

It started out with a window-shopping spree of psychiatrist seeking. Word-of-mouth recommendations, even from friends, do not necessarily mean compatibility.

I was diagnosed as depressed or, at first, “severely depressed”. Treatment for this boosted the deep lows, to be sure, but – in hindsight – did nothing for periodic highs which, precisely because they were not low, did not bother me so much. Now, with that 20/20 perspective, some of the highs were pretty destructive, and had been for a long time before I was HIV-positive. Could it be that they even led to my being infected? Such is the speculation of one who can spend…

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1,013 followers – questions?


I don’t know who you all are, but the blog machine tells me there are 1,013 of you following me here.  You can also find me, Kenn Chaplin, on Facebook.

You’ll know that I haven’t been writing much lately so, might I ask, if you have any questions for me?

I am reminded


I am reminded of December 6, 1989 at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique.

I am reminded of February 5, 1981 – Toronto’s bath house raids, the catalyst for my coming out.

I am reminded of stolen innocence as a child at the hands of a stranger.

I am reminded of the “flu” I couldn’t shake in May of 1989 when HIV was settling in.

I am reminded of the impact of a taxi cab as it rolled me on to the street on April 30, 2003.

I am reminded of a street preacher verbally assaulting me following the opening ceremonies of World Pride 2014.

I am reminded of AIDS vigils when I was incoherent with grief as I thought of the scores of people I knew who have died.

I am reminded of my connection to the human family and, in the context of the Orlando massacre, my LGBT family and friends in particular.