How's that for a controversial title?
By Geoffrey Kidwell (actor)
A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
I repeated that motto every Wednesday night at the Rotary Club meeting hall where my Boy Scout troop – Troop 860 – held its weekly meeting.
(Just as a side note, the room also doubled as a meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous.)
- Not only did I state this motto over and over – hundreds of times, probably – but I did so wearing army-green polyester pants and a shirt, also polyester (kill me), that was the color of baby diarrhea.
- I did all of this as a chubby, insecure, overly sensitive, kinda weird, kinda fun gay kid.
I rose through the ranks in scouting, at first because my parents insisted I do so but eventually, it became a part of my life, along with other responsibilities - like school, church and swim practice – that I didn’t completely love but I certainly didn’t resent.
I made great friends, stayed out of trouble and learned how to cook a really delicious Dutch oven peach cobbler.
(The Boy Scouts of America are obsessedobsessed with cooking in Dutch ovens. Don’t ask. I don’t have an answer.)
Eventually, I earned scouting’s top rank: Eagle.
There was a ceremony in my elementary school’s multi-purpose room complete with speeches and sheet cake from Costco.
And yes, I was wearing my polyester uniform.
Scouting had become a part of me and the lessons I learned – lessons about loyalty and dedication, responsibility and pride – carried me through into my adulthood.
Suffice it to say that while scouting was not my favorite thing in the world, I can look back and recognize that it played a valuable role in my development.
So no hatred there.
Now, imagine my dismay when the other night, while flipping through the pages of The Advocate, I happened upon an article whose title read, Boy Scouts Pledge to Keep Antigay Ban.
As a result, the group has decided to uphold a ban on both gay leaders AND scouts.
WHAT THE FUCK??!?!
Yes, little gay Timmy. It gets better…unless you’re a gay boy scout who believes in the organization, hopes to rise through the ranks and one day become a scout leader. Sorry, you’re screwed. Better throw out that Judy Garland album and replace it with some Steely Dan.
I kid. It’s just my way.
But in all seriousness, this article inspired me to do a bit of research.
Am I the only former scout who’s a bit twisted up about this?
Nope. I’m not.
Naka Nathaniel, a retired multimedia journalist and consultant, penned a piece for The Daily Beast in which he renounced his Eagle Scout status on the grounds that he could not, in good conscience, associate himself with an organization that actively discriminates against an entire group of people simply because they are gay.
And you know what…
I can’t either.
So today I would like to renounce my own status as an Eagle Scout.
I know when I’m not welcome.
I’ve come too far and I love myself and my boyfriend of six years too much to have my name associated with a group whose discriminatory policies force gay and lesbian scouts and leaders to hide who they are in order to be accepted.
I know better than that and doing anything but renouncing my rank would feel like taking a step back into the closet - a step I would not take for anyone, certainly not the fucking Boy Scouts.
So yes, a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Unless, of course, the object of these virtues happens to be gay. In that case, apparently, a scout is bigoted, scared, judgmental, self-righteous, devoid of sensitivity and compassion, unkind and downright cruel.
Get it together, Boy Scouts of America.
You’re on the wrong side of history and your actions are shameful.
AND NOW...THE WEEK IN WHITNEY HOUSTON!!!
Yes, she was all sweaty. Yes, her hair was a mess. Yes, she looked a bit cracked out. But she sounded amazing singing, I Wanna Dance With Somebody at a concert in Brunei. Enjoy!