Friday, July 20, 2012

Boy Scouts of Intolerance



A scout is:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent, and Heterosexual.


Although this isn't the scout law, it should be. Or else I wouldn't have spent 8 years of my life involved in the organization.


I joined a local church's Cub Scout pack when I was in 5th grade. I wouldn't have, if my little brother didn't start there first. I began as a Webelos II, and while there were only 2 other active guys at that rank, I was very actively involved that year, although I didn't go on any camping trips.


When I moved up to Boy Scouts, my whole experience changed. Suddenly I was surrounded by a bunch of older boys who were already close friends. For the first year or so, I found that I bonded more with the leaders than the boys. Luckily, I avoided all of the usual hasing that usually comes along with being the "new scouts", mainly because there were only two of us. But by my second year of scouts, I had developed a strong friendship with a guy named Ronald, who I have mentioned on this blog before. He was one of the first people I confided in about being gay. Of course, by that time I was already almost done with scouts, so it didn't really affect much at all.


I am sad to say that I did not have any "gay experiences" in my years of scouting, other than jokingly pulling back shower curtains or catching a glimpse while my tentmate is changing clothes (still in his underwear of course). I guess the only reason I say I'm sad about it is it would have been a nice "experimental" stage for me, even though I knew I liked guys already. I remember going to several campouts for the sole purpose of "scouting" out attractive guys. While there were surely other gay guys in my council, none of them seemed to be flamboyantly gay. Especially within my troop, which was composed mostly of rednecks. I even remember when we got our first black kid in the troop. He was outcasted and made fun of by some of the older scouts. Keep in mind this was probably 2008, not 1958.


As the years went on, leadership changed within my troop. My favorite scout leader of all time and his wife dropped out of the program when they learned he was ill. My scout master has remained relatively the same, but the other leaders have come and gone, and the few that were there during my later years of scouting only cared for the basics. This means that campouts were no longer for fun, they were simply chances for us to spend longer amounts of time working on merit badges. I hated it. It took the fun out of scouting. Their only goal seemed to have people advance very quickly to make the troop look good. When I turned 17 I started slacking off with attending meetings and by 18 I was completely inactive.


I did not see any discrimination against gays within my troop itself, but at one point I was called outside by my Scout Master and criticized for my online media postings being "too suggestive". I was furious, but at the same time I was still too nervous to show it, so afterwards I went home and cried and listened to what he said... for a while.


The point of this post is... well I guess there really wasn't a point. But I am very against the reinstatement of the policy banning gays. If I had known that the BSA was so against homosexuality then I would have never remained a member for so long. I remember when I first learned of the ban on gays, I wanted very badly to come out at the meetings to see what they would do, but the fact that it would probably lead to a parent phone call scared me out of it. I almost wanted to stick with it and make it to be a "gay Eagle Scout", but no longer pursued advancement after becoming a Life Scout.


Where any of you involved with Scouts? Did you notice any internal discrimination towards gays in your troop? What are your thoughts on the ban of gays in the organization?


-Tristan

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fiction Addiction


So based on my previous entry, I wanted to try something out really quickly that I haven't ever done. I'm gonna give myself 30 minutes on the clock (mainly because I have to get up early to help with a camp tomorrow, which I will discuss later in the week, maybe...) and write a completely fiction story to see how far I get. This should be fun for me, and hopefully just as interesting for you. So let's get started.

I forced myself through the doorway of the classroom, which had a highlighter-yellow sign on the front that said FRESHMAN 101 (X-Z). I normally hated the fact that I was usually the last name to be called on the roll of students, but I hoped that this time it would work to my advantage, since only 2% of people in America have last name that starts between the letters X and Z. This means that I would only have to face around roughly 2% of the student population staring at me at once, and at least after making it through one class I would no longer be the "new kid." And yes, I do realize that everyone is a new kid when moving from middle school to a brand new high school, and most people are scared out of their wits with all the horror stories about drugs, alcohol, and rape that they teach us to stay away from. But I was beyond that point of fear. You see, I had just moved from a small town in Kansas, and the middle school I attended had 250 students in total. Each grade had around 100 kids, not including 8th grade, because half of my classmates' parents pulled them out so they could help out on the farm. Sometimes I wish my mother had done the same. But here I was, 14-year-old James Zandorf (which, did not come from an early draft of a book in the Harry Potter series, in case you were wondering), walking into a building three times the size of the Walmart back home. I had never even heard of Raleigh, North Carolina. Heck, the furthest east I had driven with my mom was to Kansas City, Missouri. Which to me, doesn't even count as "crossing the boarder" since the city shares the name of my home state. But whatever.

Surprisingly, I hadn't gotten the attention that I anticipated when walking into the classroom. Probably due to the fact that I had arrived 10 minutes before the bell to enter the building had even rung. As I slowly started to back my way out to pretend I was never there, the middle-aged lady (whom I hadn't noticed before since her dress nearly blended in with the off-white color of... pretty much everything in the room.

"Hello there! May I help you?", she remarked. Although her voice seemed teacherly, it also reminded me of the greeter at the Walmart back home.

"Is this Freshman 101?"
"Not for the next 10 minutes it isn't."
"Oh I'm sorry, I'll come back."
"No! Please come in. I always like to meet the overly anxious students."

Great, I had just set myself up as the teacher's pet, better known as the laughing stock of the entire class. While I was almost tempted to turn around and run down the hall, covering my face so no future teachers would recognize me, her grandmotherly smile seemed to have more of a calming affect on me than I would have imagined.

"Let me guess, you're.... Tyler Yates?"
"Close."

I have no idea how Tyler Yates is anywhere close to James Zandorf, other than both being in the lower denominator of names in the before-mentioned class roster. If you haven't noticed by now, I'm one of the most socially awkward people on the planet.

So socially awkward that last year during middle school graduation, I replied to nearly each "Congratulations" with "You're Welcome" instead of the more appropriate response. And those people were the lucky ones. But that was not nearly as humiliating as the day we moved to Raleigh and Julia, the neighbor kid, coerced my mother into letting her come say hello to me in my room. I, of course, had no idea anyone was in the house, let alone some stranger, so I was sitting at my computer with the door wide open and pants down to my knees. You don't even have to guess what I was doing. I don't know how long she was standing there watching me, but when she knocked on my already open door, I jumped up faster than a groundhog seing its shadow. She stared at me with a flushed red face, not that mine was any less red.

"Hey there! you must be...", she started as I quickly pulled the jacket from my floor to cover my exposed bottom. Without thinking, I shrieked out an answer to a question that hadn't even been asked of me.

"Gay?.... I mean James. Oh my god, sorry."


Oh, did I mention that I was gay?

DING DING DING!


Times up. So what do ya think? I know it's not perfect. This is a first draft without any revision. I haven't even read it yet. I always get praised for my essays but I've never tried to sit down and write a fictional story from scratch. I got really into this. Almost to the point where I want to keep going. Should I?


-Tristan

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sprout



This is more of a recommendation than a product review, but nevertheless, this entry is about a book I just finished reading that had a very strong impact on me. That book is Sprout, by Dale Peck.

I'm not much of a reader. Well, at least when it comes to being forced to read a book that was written 5 billion years ago about colonial era sluts who are accused of being witches. But every now and then I will get the craving to read a young adult fiction book. But not just any book. It has to involve a young or teenage boy or I won't read it. Take Lord of the Flies for example. I was never required to read it at school, but did so during "reading time" in my 10th grade English class where we were allowed to read any book of our choosing for 30 minutes each day. I absolutely loved that book and made sure to watch both movies as well. And (dare I say it?), the book was much better.

But above all else, I love reading books about young gay boys. And that is exactly what Sprout is. Sprout is the story of 16-year-old Daniel, nicknamed "Sprout" because of his obsession with dyeing his hair green, who is being tutored by his English teacher to prepare for an Essay Contest for the end of the year. He moved from Long Island to Kansas after his mother passed away from cancer. Sprout wants to write his essay on his sexuality, but his tutor, Mrs. Miller, begins by convincing him that wouldn't be the best idea due to the fact that he was in rural Kansas. It's hard to talk about this book without giving too much away. But basically it is the story about his crushes, family struggles, friendships, sex life, and his developing life-changing relationship with a boy.

I was surprised by the fact that the writing style that the author uses in this book is very similar to the way I write. So if you enjoy my blog and the subtle humor I sometimes use, you will definitely enjoy the book. Sprout could easily be the prequel to TristanTalks, although I can't decide if I'd be lucky or unlucky to have a past like Sprout's. The book itself is written in first person, so you know exactly what is going through Sprouts mind the entire time.

While this book is fiction, it almost feels too realistic to not be autobiographical in some aspects. Plus, with the author's name being Dale Peck, he was most likely called "Pecker" as a child, which is probably the equivalent analogy to a penis as "Sprout". But that's just a guess. The REAL connection is even more surprising. The book is dedicated to a man named Lamoine Wiebe with the following statement, "in the hope that he'll always find his way back home." Without giving anything away, this sounds very much like a reference to the boy that Sprout becomes involved with later in the book. So me, being the overly curious internet-obsessed teenager that I am, Googled the name. It turns out that a man by the same name (and state) is accused of murdering his father in 2011 and 2 weeks ago faced his preliminary hearing. This came as a huge shock to me because 1) The boy who I believe was based off of Lamoine in the story had a horrible, abusive father and 2) This book was published in 2009, but the author was born in 1967, making the events that probably took place having to have occurred in the early 1980s. I am now fascinated by the topic and the possibility that Lamoine was the character in the book and would love to get in contact with the author to hear his opinion on the issue. However, I have been unable to find any contact information for Dale Peck online.

Here is a link to where you can purchase the book. You can get a used paperback version for less than $2. Yes, I do get a portion of the profit when you purchase using the link below. So think of it as not only a gift to yourself, but a donation to help keep the blog running (I just paid for another year of owning TristanTalks.com). You will definitely not regret it.

Happy reading,
Tristan Skyler

Monday, July 2, 2012

Booty Nudity


It can't be just me that notices this nation's obsession with nudity, right?

Okay, so Gymnophobia may be the more appropriate word. As a society, we view nudity as a horrible evil along the same lines as infidelity and assault. Just a few months ago a preteen boy was arrested in a nearby city for exposing his genitalia in a public park. Apparently an elderly lady saw him and it got her feeble heart racing so her daughter decided to press charges.

The question is: Is nudity such a bad thing?

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I'm innocent to society's influences. While the only time I was exposed to public nudity was at a "topless pool party" of transexual women at an LGBT convention, it still heightened my adrenaline and sent a few negative thoughts my way. However, nobody freaks out when they see a baby naked when it's born. But as soon as that baby learns to walk and talk, it must remain fully clothed at all times. Why is that? 


Personally, I feel that the human body is beautiful in the nude. Especially the youthful figure. I feel that humans are sculpted perfectly, no matter what shape or size. I do not understand why every buttocks, pelvis, or breast must be censored on television. But that's not to say that this censorship is necessarily unnecessary. Most nudity on American television or film is sexual and pornographic. There is a huge difference between artful nudity and sexual nudity.


Artful nudity is the display of the human body in a way that is natural and pure in every sense of the word. Roman statues and Parisian paintings have displayed this nudity for generations. Even some modern foreign advertising uses nudity as a way to convey a message in a powerful way.


Sexual nudity, on the contrary, is what you see in American action films with a leading female slut hero. There is no purpose behind it other than to arouse the viewer. I believe that this kind of nudity is perfectly acceptable to be censored on daytime television.


If artful nudity is shown more frequently, the American demand for sexual nudity is sure to decrease. This isn't saying that the porn industry will fail, that's a whole other topic. But Americans will become less isolated from nudity, and will (over time) change their opinion into a more accepting and self-loving view of the human body.


If we can't love ourselves down to our skin and bones, how can we possibly love ourselves at all?


Yours nudely,
Tristan