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

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