An Anti-Gay Crusader and Her Gay Son Were Making It Work. Then Came Trump.
A portrait of a modern family undone by the political zeitgeist
He may have been just 16, a sheltered bookworm from a conservative evangelical family, but when it came to public speaking, Matthew Mason had the poise of a veteran statesman. Captured on video addressing an appreciative crowd at a 2007 anti-abortion banquet at Chico State, he wears a black suit and wire-rimmed glasses. He paces the stage with practiced confidence, hitting his marks, making good eye contact, nailing his jokes, and then pausing with an easy grin to wait for the applause to subside. He has a story to tell, and he delivers it flawlessly.
It begins in 1990, when an 18-year-old former runaway realized she’d become pregnant for the third time. The young woman had already had one abortion and given birth to one child. Knowing she couldn’t handle another infant, she visited a local clinic to terminate the pregnancy. She avoided the protesters perennially camped outside, ignoring their shrill cries (“Mommy, please don’t kill me!”). But as she lay on the examination table, the teenager began to have doubts. She asked for a look at the ultrasound screen, and the technician reluctantly agreed. The ghostlike image stirred something in her. Even at less than eight weeks, she thought she could see the embryo’s hands, its spine, its feet.
In Matthew’s telling, the procedure was about to begin when the young woman declared she had changed her mind. “No!” the doctor supposedly replied. “It’s too late to back out!” Rising defiantly from the table, she put on her clothes and walked out.
By the time Matthew’s speech approaches its climax, the audience surely knows what’s coming, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful.
Later that day, though, she found herself driving past the clinic again. The activists were still there. She parked, hopped out, and approached the group. “Thanks for being out here,” she said, going on to explain her plight. A woman of 29 with teased hair and a red sweater took her hands. “I may not have all the answers you need,” she replied, “but I do know the One who does.” The two of…