Before any of you get terribly excited about what I am going to reveal here, just know you aren’t going to get any juicy details from me. If you want to know the stories that would make any twink porn director’s jaw drop, you can take me out for a drink. That is not the purpose of this article and I’m not going to embarrass my parents.
In any organization that involves post-pubescent boys and teenagers, there is going to be sexually charged games, teasing, and experimentation. We never talk about it in this country but we all know that it happens and most of us have probably been involved gay OR straight. It’s just part of growing up. Boy Scout camp-outs were no different. No matter how great the adult leadership might be, boys are going to sneak around doing whatever they need to do to satisfy their raging hormones. There is really nothing that national leadership for the BSA or any organization can really do to keep kids from discovering themselves.
The Boy Scouts of America started to actively deny open homosexual scouts and scout leaders as early as 1980. I don’t remember much about homosexuality and scouting until it went to the Supreme Court in 2000. I was 16 and was a camp counselor at a summer camp in southern Ohio. This also happened to be the week that my hometown troop was attending and my father was the scoutmaster. Everyone was talking about the court case that week around the grounds. I avoided the conversation at all costs. I had already been having a love affair with a boy in my hometown (he was actually in my troop but was not attending camp that week.) I was surrounded by comments of disgust and gay jokes. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts they announced it at the camp assembly before dinner. The entire camp erupted in cheers and high-fives. I cheered as well but on the inside I was dead. Not only was it enough to hear from fellow scouts, leaders, and parents saying that I didn’t belong, now, the highest court in the land agreed with them! Where was I to go? What was I to say? I was surrounded. I was scared. I stayed silent.
I loved scouting. I was arguably the poster boy for scouting in my area. I started in Tiger Cubs and grew up in Cub Scouts. My life was full of pinewood derbies, rain gutter regattas, wolly-worm races, and camp-outs with the parents. I learned how to build a fire, how to save a life, and the meaning of community service. I was probably the most involved boy in my troop once I was old enough to join Boy Scouts. I held many leadership positions in my troop, I marched in the parades, and I worked on many community projects. I was Brotherhood in the Order of the Arrow, I had more merit badges than anyone, I was a camp counselor and I hiked in Philmont. I went to the National Jamboree Twice and when I went the second time I was in the National Jamboree Band, represented Ohio with my Trombone, performed on the steps of The Capitol in D.C and for the President of the United States of America, and somehow ended up on the front cover of Boy’s Life magazine! Above all, I EARNED the rank of EAGLE SCOUT. I am just as much boy as any other boy. In fact, I am a MAN you will want to be near during any major disaster, or if you are lost, or if you don’t know if the snake you found is poisonous or not.
Being gay doesn’t make me any less a man, any less a scout. It’s time to lift this discriminatory ban that keeps some of the best would-be scouts out.