For 14 years of my life, I was a part of what I thought was a great society, the Boy Scouts of America. When I was 14-years-old I received my Eagle Scout award, I was a member of the National Scouting Honor Society, and I worked at a summer camp for 6 summers. From the start I knew that I was different than most of the guys I was in this program with. While many of them were talking about their girlfriends or the hottest movie star, I was thinking about guys, and in the Boy Scouts, that might as well be a death sentence.
What most people don’t know is that since the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization, they have the right to kick out any member who’s openly homosexual. This rule applies to both scouts and scoutmasters, and countless scouts have had their rankings and achievements stripped away from them for coming out. With the added fear of having all of our hard work and achievements stripped away, can anyone blame so many scouts for staying in the closet? The closet seemed like the safest place I could possibly be as a 16-year-old at a Boy Scout summer camp with my hormones in full gear.
Do I stay in the closet and continue to be able to participate in an organization I love? Or do I stay true to myself and leave everything behind? These questions were constantly on my mind. If I go on a date will someone see me and tell my Scoutmaster?
I felt completely alone, but now I’ve come to realize that I was not the only gay Boy Scout out there. There are so many gay Boy Scouts out there, each feeling as if they’re the only one.
My time with the Boy Scouts of America ended when I was 18. After dating my first serious boyfriend, who was also a part of the organization and dealing with the same issues I was, we broke up after about six months together. During the six months of hiding dates and hanging in dark rooms, I realized that this is what my life would be if I continued to be a Boy Scout and the moment I had dreaded for almost four years leading up to it. After years of hiding, I decided that before anyone outed me, I would out myself and quit the organization I had come to love.
Feb 12, 2009 was my last official day as a Boy Scout. I was never stripped of the awards I had earned and I’ve read and met numerous individuals who had a much more devastating time than myself.
Sitting around campfires at scout camp, you hear horrible jokes made about “faggots,” “queers,” and “sissies.” Having to listen to those words destroyed me inside. It beat me down and dragged me through the mud from times. But I quit and I came out, but I will always be a gay Boy Scout and proud of who I am.
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