This is the second essay we have received in response to our recent article concerning BSA’s membership standards for young people. This one, from a very well spoken young man, is heart breaking.
I have been a member of the Scouting community since I was a Cub Scout. I have since progressed and grown with the program. It has been a part of my life since I can remember. When I joined, I had no idea where the program would take me. I would have never experienced the many joys and struggles that have pushed me farther, and made me a more rounded person. I love the organization, and have basically given my life to the program in turn for the experiences and personal growth. And I’m glad I did.
I’m gay. I have been my entire life, but very few know it. I had been in denial about it all of my teen years, and finally, after thoughts of suicide, anxiety, depression, and stress, I couldn’t hold it in me any longer, or I might have acted on my thoughts. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of leaving my family behind and giving up on them.
I hid who I was for so long, it hurt a person I love dearly. I had a girlfriend, another person I met in Scouting. Because I had denied my feelings, I let the relationship grow into something I couldn’t do. As hard as I tried, I could not give her the love she expected. We broke up and are still friends, but she still doesn’t know, as I risk being removed from a program I love so dearly.
As I have finally accepted who I am, I have questioned this love for an organization that doesn’t welcome those like me. I never chose my orientation, just as one doesn’t have a choice over what color eyes they have, how tall they are, what skin color, or how they look. If I could have chosen to be six foot two, dark hair, blue eyes, dimples, and be attracted to women, I would have not been in the position Im in. But instead, I am who I am, and I cant be living as someone I’m not. After all, a Scout is trustworthy.
I haven’t made my decision of how long I’m going to stay in the closet in Scouting. One part of me wants to leave immediately as Im not welcomed in the program if I continue to hide. Another part of me just wants to stay and not disrupt what I have going for sake of having one constant thing in my life. Ideally, Id love to just be accepted for who I am and the merits I have done in the program, not for who I love. But each and every day, I find it harder to carry out my duties with these thoughts in the back of my mind.
I am an Eagle Scout, and I’m not going to hide it or deny it. But to know that if I had the courage or wisdom to not deny who I was, I would have never received that honor, and many teens are being denied this because of something they were born as. It hurts to think I could have been one of them.
Every day, I deal with hate for those like me. Even though nobody knows my secret, I am filled with sadness when another person has a slur, or outright hate. When I hear how bad others like me are because they “abuse children” or are “sex crazed men,” it hurts. Of course there is no denying those people don’t exist, but those traits can be found in heterosexual men and women. I would never think of doing those things. I’m attracted to men my age and someone I can have a lasting relationship with. And so are most gay people. My dream is to spend my life with someone I love, who will raise children with me, and will always be there. Is that not what most people desire?
I know in my heart, I cant change peoples opinions about topics. Everyone has their own opinion and they are entitled to them. I only want to give insight of a gay teen in Scouting, and the sadness I have to overcome each and every day. I already don’t feel accepted in society if I reveal my secret, and it really hurts me to know I wouldn’t be accepted in Scouting either.