I was a gay Boy Scout. I didn't know it at the time but I definitely was what the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) fears most. I was a good fire maker, a good camp cook, good hiker and good at earning merit badges. Where I stood out as different from the other boys was in sports and games. I couldn't compete but it didn't seem to matter and nobody cared. I actually fit in!
When I was young there was no such thing as "gay people," at least not in my part of the country, the great plains region of the USA. This was the 1960s. God, government, Chevrolet and apple pie still ruled the culture.
The unrest of the 60s generation had not yet made it into the heartland of the country. My world was more like Andy Griffith's Mayberry, North Carolina. Anything that didn't fit into the mindset just didn't exist. Today it's a different world. Yesterday, President Obama told the Washington Post he believes the Boy Scouts should be open to gays.
For me, Boy Scouts was the one good thing in my otherwise squandered youth. I was miserable in school, teased and bullied and my grades showed it. My parents fought constantly so life at home was miserable. Scouting was a bit of a break from all that. I made it to the rank of Star Scout by the time I started high school. It was the one area of my life I actually excelled in.
Unfortunately I then quit scouting to pursue juvenile delinquency. Yet it was what I learned in Boy Scouts that allowed me to develop the character skills necessary to give me the fortitude and perseverance to recover from and make up for my dalliances into drugs, alcohol, partying and minor criminal pursuits that filled my teenage years. Heaven knows I didn't learn it at home!
So I have a bone to pick with the Boy Scouts. I loved Scouting but Scouting betrayed me and every other gay kid. As an adult and an openly gay man I have chosen not to support participate or condone the Boy Scouts in anyway until they end their bigotry. I'm sad and I'm mad at BSA's homophobia. I think I'd be a great scoutmaster and scouting has lost a lot of great potential leaders like me! Keep reading ...
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