“Hey, this popcorn is pretty good.  How much did it cost?” my wife Kara asked, standing outside our pantry about a year ago.

“Eighteen bucks,” I replied, and she coughed so hard a kernel lodged in her throat.

“It’s not an $18 bag of popcorn. I made an $18 donation to the Boy Scouts, and look!  Now we have a bag of caramel corn, too,” I said.

That’s what she gets for sending me to the grocery store. It’s impossible to walk past a table of earnest kids selling overpriced goods by the exit, especially if those goods are slathered in caramel.

Mike Todd is seen with his dad about 20 years ago when he was an Eagle Scout. At the time Mike did not know the national Boy Scout organization was homophobic, but he does now.

Besides, I was glad to support the Boy Scouts. Becoming an Eagle Scout in high school was one of the proudest accomplishments of my life, and I hope that someday my two sons might learn the same things that I learned from Scouts: camping, fishing, homophobia, canoeing, etc.

Of course, some people might take issue with at least one item on that list, but I can assure you that we always treated the fish humanely, except the ones that we dragged out of the water by their lips.

As for homophobia, of course we didn’t really learn that. I actually can’t remember gayness being an issue in my Scouting days. Some of my fellow Scouts were probably in the closet (or in Scouting terms, “in the vestibule”). I joined the Boy Scouts when I was 12, and I knew I was straight by that time, but a depressing number of years would pass before I was able to do anything about it.

You know what they say about girls liking men in uniform? In my experience, that doesn’t apply to the Boy Scout uniform. I blame the kerchief. It’s too nerdy.

But these days, it’s hard for me to separate the Boy Scouts from its headline-making turn as an organization that actively excludes gay people. It seems completely backwards to me that an organization that requires teenage boys to wear hiked-up knee socks would be in a position to turn anyone away.

“I heard that some Eagle Scouts were sending their badges back to the national office in protest.  Maybe I should do that, too,” I told my sister Amy on the phone. Amy’s older than 18, female and gay.  They’d let a three-toed sloth be a Boy Scout before her.

“You worked hard for that.  Don’t do it for me,” she said.

“I was hoping you’d say that. I have no idea where my merit badges are, so right now I could not send them back even if I wanted to make a ­­statement,” I replied. A good protest should involve picketing or self-immolation, not rummaging through your parents’ storage room.

I’m sure the Boy Scouts would rather not deal with this issue at all. Like most adults, they’d probably prefer that teenagers were neither straight nor gay, but asexual, like coral or popcorn. That would make the world a much easier place to deal with, but it would also ruin our American Pie movies.

The whole thing just makes me sad. Some of the best experiences of my life, the closest bonding times with my dad and the sharpest things I ever whittled happened because of the Boy Scouts. But if my two sons wanted to join, I’d hesitate. Keeping them out of Boy Scouts seems like boycotting apple pie, but then apple pie doesn’t discriminate against people for being who they are. It’s delicious for everyone.

Fortunately for us, my oldest son is only three years old, and I can’t imagine that this kind of thinking (such as it is) will survive for the nine years until he’s eligible to join. That doesn’t do much good for kids in the meantime, though, who have to either hide who they are or make their S’mores somewhere else.

I passed some Boy Scouts in the mall yesterday, selling their delicious wares. I’m rooting for them and their troop, and wish them all the best.  The Girl Scout organization doesn’t similarly exclude gays, though, so for the time being, it looks like I’ll be putting my Boy Scout merit badges in mothballs. If I can ever find them, that is.




This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Freezeframe

    Adolescents and early teens are already besieged with confusing sexual thoughts and impulses they don’t understand. Parents need to know that their children won’t have to face a same-sex fellow scout making homosexual passes at them on a camping trip which could devastate the young heterosexual mind that’s already confused about sex. Many homosexuals report that their first homosexual encounter was when they were 12, 13, 14 years old. Kids going on camping trips with scouts should never be forced to contend with sexual issues they couldn’t possibly understand at that age. Normally I’m a supporter of homosexual rights. Not in this case.

    • cwgmpls

      Almost all men, straight and gay, report that their first sexual encounter with another person was with another boy or boys when they were 12, 13, 14 years old. This is normal curiosity and development. It doesn’t make boys gay. Although if you live in a very strict, conservative household, it can drive a boy into a deep sense of guilt and shame over what is normal childhood development.

      This has nothing to do with gays in BSA. Boys will be curious about their bodies whether gays are in BSA or not. And nobody is “taught” to be straight or gay, so having gay scouts around won’t affect the sexual orientation of the boys.

      If you think people are taught to be straight or gay, maybe you’d like to summarize for us who taught you to be straight, and, in general terms, how that came about?

    • Adam Johnson

      You’re simply a homophobic cunt, you don’t want gay guys to go camping with other guys because you think that gays will try and flirt with them? How the fuck would a gay person flirting with a heterosexual effect them in anyway? You are aware that if a person is heterosexual they aren’t suddenly going to have gay relationships with one another? Actually the most likely thing is the gay/homosexual will get bullied, meaning that the heterosexual mind would cause more damage to the homosexual mind! Also if you’re saying that a gay person would rape… Then once again you’re a homophobic cunt! Also how the fuck can you say you’re for gay rights… When you don’t want them to go fucking camping?!

  • cwgmpls

    Your son will be eligible to join BSA in four years, not nine. He can join Cub Scouts in first grade. But whether it is four or nine years, it is likely that BSA will survive with its current policy for that long, and even much longer.

    BSA now receives the bulk of its funding from conservative churches, including the Catholic and LDS church. It is very unlikely that those churches will change their teachings about gays in the next decade. If its main funders do not change their views on gays, I don’t know why BSA would. BSA will simply live on with its current policy, serving a smaller and smaller number of U. S. families who are adherents of these conservative churches. A sad outcome, but it seems to be inevitable.

    • ml1234

      Laughable that you mention the Catholic Church in your inane argument.

      • cwgmpls

        What is laughable? That I forgot to mention conservative Protestant churches? LDS, Catholic and conservative Protesant troops now make up over 75% of BSA. Current membership breakdown is roughly 25% conservative Protestant, 23% LDS, and 15% Catholic. BSA can easily run its Scout program with just those three sponsor groups.

        • ml1234

          Being aligned with the Catholic Church clearly does not stop pedophiles, which is the real problem you are worried about, Your homophobia gets in the way of a real problem, men preying on young boys. Maybe if you focused your efforts in that direction you would get some results. And please, don;t ask the Catholic Church for help.

          • yat

            Notice you are saying MEN preying on young BOYS. Aren’t men and boys of the same sex? Of course all homosexual men are not pedophiles and I am not suggesting that they are, but the problem with sexual abuse in Scouting is male-male. Seems like banning males who are sexually attracted to other males would be logical. BSA has its problems and it is only as good as the volunteers it gets, but when many of your most successful (and expensive) drug rehab programs for teens utilize Scouting methods of leadership and team building like Scouting’s patrol system, self-esteem building through acheivement (like ranks and merit , and outdoor/nature connections, you have to give even the devil his due.

  • Alison

    Apparently the Scouts are a lot more than homophobic..

    And to clarify, this isn’t a dig on your character or opinion. I have many great, tolerant Eagle Scout peers who are equally proud of their merits and I respect them for it. However, after today’s disturbing news, I don’t think I’m alone in concluding that BSA is a pretty shady organization.

  • Mary Waterton

    Homophobia is nothing more than calling homosexuality what it really is … a sick, immoral lifestyle choice. It’s knowing the difference between right and wrong and not being afraid to say so. That’s why I let my boys participate in the BSA. Unfortunately, I can’t say kind things about the GSA, which embraces the homosexual lifestyle, and thus why I won’t let my daughters join.

  • Yat

    Poor Boy Scouts. They are being slammed for not weeding out pedophiles (MEN preying on young boys) and at the same time slammed for not endorsing homosexuality! This is not to imply that all homosexuals are pedophiles by any means, but of all the complaints about sexual abuse in Scouting, none of them are heterosexual.