soapbox

The New Normal: Chevy Ads Show Gay Couples

February 8, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, MY 2 DADS

I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Chevrolet for airing two commercials during the opening days of the Olympics that were inclusive of gays and lesbians.

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Screen capture from Chevy’s “The New Us” spot.

Wait, what?

Yup. CHEVY. Bastion of American capitalism and producer of big-ass trucks. The last word in “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and…”

Chevy paid upwards of a BAZILLION* dollars to run two commercials featuring gay couples during the Olympics. The Olympics being held in Russia, where the government recently legalized homophobia, essentially sanctioning hate crimes.

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An Open Letter to Photo Card Companies: LGBT Families Celebrate Christmas, Too

December 17, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, MY 2 DADS, RASPBERRIES, SCRAPBOOKING

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I want to preface by saying that I find articles titled “An open letter to…” a bit pompous and self-important. So with that, please enjoy this pompous, self-important open letter to the makers of holiday photo cards — in particular the four companies (un)fortunate enough to have me on their mailing lists.

One of my favorite and longest-running holiday traditions is designing our family’s holiday card. I first created a card for Papa and myself in 2001, and haven’t skipped a year since. With the onset of daddyhood, a requisite family photo has been incorporated into now dominates the design. However, a couple of years ago, I was forced to use <gasp!> an online photo card company. I was not a happy Designer Daddy. It’s like if Santa had to send all the presents FedEx. This was due to restrictions set by the photographer we used, yet it ended up being a relatively pleasant experience, even if I couldn’t claim it as an original DD creation.

As this year has had an above-normal level of stress, it crossed my mind to save some time and sanity and browse the photo card catalogs we’d received. Whenever I came across a layout I liked, I tried to picture our goofy mugs in place of the picture perfect families smiling back at me. But as I turned page after page after page, I found myself growing disheartened, searching in vain for a photo of a two dad or two mom family. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, considering very few companies of any kind feature same-sex couples or LGBT parents in their marketing or advertising. Even the ones that are historically inclusive rarely show gays or lesbians outside of LGBT publications or broadcasts.

So I did a little experiment. I went back and scoured each of the catalogs I’d gotten, tallying up the families, couples and kids featured in all their glowing, photogenic glory, in order to get some concrete(ish) information. While I was at it, I also took a look at how people of color were represented.

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Retelling A Tragic Story

November 18, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES

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I had seen the headlines — about a couple “returning” their adopted son after 9 years — yet had steered completely clear of reading it.

But then a friend messaged me the link to one of the articles. “Have you seen this? So awful.” was all he said. No shit. That’s why I’d been avoiding it. More sensationalist fodder to fuel the 24-hour-news-cycle hyperbole machine. Another emotional train wreck that so many somehow never grow tired of rubbernecking at.

Do you know who doesn’t stop to stare at train wrecks? People who’ve actually been in a train wreck.

As an adoptive parent, I avoided this story the same way I’d avoided the reality series The Baby Wait. This show (from the creators of Teen Mom, 16 & Pregnant, and Jersey Shore…yikes) followed adoptive parents during the revocation period — the time after a child is born when the birthmother can change her mind and terminate the adoption. Sure it shed some light on open adoptions (like ours is) and even featured several same-sex couples. Nonetheless, those pluses were overshadowed by the fact this was a show capitalizing on loss and rejection. Before JJ came into our lives, we had experienced such an ordeal. Why would we want to relive it in any form ever again?

So yeah, I wasn’t reading any story about adoptive parents abandoning their child. I had my own life and adopted child to worry about. And not abandon.

Then later I saw my friend had posted the article on Facebook, and realized that he had written it. With a mix of courtesy and curiosity, I gave in and read it. Here are the miserable highlights:

Cleveland and Lisa Cox adopted their son when he was three months old. Now he’s 9 years old, displaying some aggressive behavior, and is reported to have threatened other family members with a knife. The Cox’s took their son to their local Ohio children services, leaving the state to deal with him. A judge is considering charging the parents with reckless abandonment, for which they could face 6 months of jail time and a $1,000 fine. The parents apparently were frustrated that the boy would not agree to get help for his behavioral issues. The couple took their 2 other children and left the area for a couple of days, then turned themselves in on Friday. The Cox’s will appear in Juvenile Court November 27 to address their request to terminate parental rights.

I’m sure there are details the public isn’t privy to. And I’m not here to pile on more judgement and vitriol (although the temptation is very strong).

So why write about it? Because by all appearances, these two were not meant to be this boy’s parents, and are — by their own admission — unfit to be so. But more importantly, now there’s a 9 year-old boy with likely behavioral problems, stuck in the foster care system. Those are not the kinds of kids that get adopted (again) quickly. Or oftentimes, at all.

My hope is that the more this story gets out — sad, dramatic details and all — the more quickly this boy will find his true and permanent home. Whether it’s a new family with the patience and strength to love and support him unconditionally; or by some miracle, the Cox’s, repentant and willing to do everything it takes to get help for themselves and their son.

As with the vast majority of any honest parents, my child has made me want to yank out my (remaining) hair many times, but I’ve never even pondered “giving him back.” What does that even mean? I don’t sit around thinking about him being adopted, even when I’m angry and frustrated and at my wit’s end. I know JJ is right where he belongs. We’re far from a perfect family, yet he’s mine & Papa’s and we’re his — a forever family. My son has brought so much life to my life, and I could never imagine returning to a time without him.

Thank you to David Wallach (from Dad All Day) for sending me your article.

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P.S. If you don’t already “Like” Designer Daddy’s Facebook Page, but you like the blog, please come by for a visit for additional content, photos and conversation.

A Gay Man’s Moment of Patriotism

July 3, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, MY 2 DADS

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I jumped out of a cab and into the sweltering DC heat. I jogged across the street and joined the other 100 or so men in red polo shirts standing across the sidewalk from the US Supreme Court Building. It was June 26th, and less than two hours before, DOMA and Prop8 had been struck down, giving significant momentum to same-sex marriage, and LGBT rights overall. This was more momentum — and public, official support — than gay America had ever experienced.

The guys in red were my friends family and fellow members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. We had been on call for a couple of weeks, awaiting word for when SCOTUS would read their rulings on these closely watched cases. The call had come, the rulings had been read, and we were there to sing — thankfully not in protest, but in celebration.

It was our time — so like a big, sweaty amoeba, we squeezed through the crowd of camera crews, ralliers and a grumpy passer-by or two. As we neared our designated spot, a cheer rippled through the group and I spotted Barney Frank trying to make his way in the opposite direction. I snapped a quick photo, then leaned in for an overly eager hug and a too loud “Thank you for all you’ve done!” in his ear. I may have even kissed his cheek.

We finished forming our rows in front of the steps; our director raised her hands to lead us in the first of our two songs — “Make Them Hear You” from the musical Ragtime. Written from the perspective of African-Americans at the turn of the 20th Century, the lyrics are universal in their admonishment of maligned people to protest peacefully, yet loudly. We reached the final verse…“Go out and tell our story to your daughters and your sons,” and I thought of my own son and the ever more tolerant world he’s growing up in.

We then began to sing the national anthem. I’m amazed at how incredible it feels — both musically and emotionally — to sing this. It’s a powerful thing to hear a host of men’s voices blending together, marginalized citizens showing pride and passion about the country slow to embrace them fully. I’ve had the privilege to perform it with GMCW several times at Washington Nationals’ games. Being behind home plate, hearing our voices echo up into the cavernous stadium full of fans, catching a glimpse of myself on the jumbotron — the experience is always exhilarating.

But that day in front of those steps, it was different. More momentous, yet more intimate. A shift had occurred, and we’d been brought one step closer to equal with our heterosexual neighbors, families and fellow citizens.

If you haven’t thought about the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a while, take a moment to do so:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

We all know the anthem is about our flag, surviving a brutal battle during the War of 1812. It remained intact, waving proudly amidst the turmoil, giving hope and speaking of bravery and endurance.

And that’s how I felt as we sang in the hot, midday sun. That we as a community had endured so much turmoil and discrimination, merely because of who we love. Yet we had only grown stronger, given greater visibility and resolve by the glaring rockets and bursting bombs all around us: Stonewall. Harvey Milk. AIDS. Matthew Shepard. Westboro Baptist Church. The countless victims of rejection, bullying, excommunication, suicide and murder.

As we neared the end, I choked up, unable to sing. My heart filled with pride for my country, my community, my chorus brothers, my family. My thoughts filled with anticipation and relief. My eyes filled with a mixture of sweat and tears.

We finished the song, and I hugged several of the guys and took a few more pictures to capture the day. But it was a swampy summer afternoon in Washington, and I’d had enough. I walked back across the street to hail another taxi for an impromptu trip to my husband’s office. I wanted to share and celebrate the moment with him before heading back to work myself.

As I cooled down in the air-conditioned cab, my thoughts went to the pile of work I had waiting for me, and the fatherly work after that feeding, bathing and putting my son to bed. I thought to myself how much time it had taken out of my day, traveling by subway and cab and on foot, the time it was going to take me to get home and the unavoidable stress… but then I stopped myself. I had experienced the struggle of gay Americans in a microcosm that day. Working so hard, traveling far, enduring the searing heat, then one moment of communal triumph… then back to work.

Time to get back to work and family, and all the day-to-day things that make up my life. The only difference was that my relationship and my family were now just as protected and supported as every other American… and that made all the difference.

The reception of our performance has been pretty astounding. It has been featured on PBS NewsHour, The Washington Post, Business Insider, NPR, MSNBC and most local news stations. Oh yeah, and even Glenn Beck’s web site. If you saw/heard it anywhere else, send me the link and I’ll add it to this list.

If you’re on Facebook, you can view my photo album from the performances here.

(P.S. That’s me in the yellow Superman visor, far left.)

 

Fridge Wisdom: The State(s) of Same-Sex Marriage

June 25, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decisions on DOMA and Prop8, I wanted to take a moment and honor the states (and a couple of countries*) that laid the groundwork to get us to this point in the nation’s history.

Over the last decade, thousands upon thousands of Americans have sacrificed their time, money, privacy and sanity to get same-sex marriage legalized in their respective home states. Their goal of obtaining full rights for LGBT couples and families was not easily fought, and it’s upon their shoulders we will stand equal to the rest of the country, whether it’s now or in the future. I’m rooting for now…my fridge is running out of space.

 

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Surprising no one, The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, November 2001.
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The Boy Scouts of America Stumble Towards Progress

May 27, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES

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In late April I wrote an article for The Good Men Project sharing my thoughts on the proposed amendment to end the ban on gay scouts. The amendment has now passed, and beginning January 2014 the Boy Scouts of America will begin allowing gays amongst their ranks. However the ban on gay leaders remains untouched. Below is an excerpt from my follow up article after the passing of this historic and long-overdue amendment.

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The Boy Scouts have moved a little further out of the last century with this vote. Considering where they came from, it is progress… of sorts. It was a mixed decision, that garnered mixed support and elicited mixed reactions. Most importantly, it sends a mixed message to the young men the BSA so emphatically and repeatedly stated were at the heart of this decision. Particularly to the gay ones.

The message? Please join us. We accept you. Please devote your entire youth to us, so we can train you to be a responsible and well-rounded member of society. Congratulations, here’s your Eagle Award, our highest honor, bestowed on only the most dedicated and honorable Scouts. What’s that? You’d like to take all this knowledge and character and experience we’ve taught you and pass that on to the next generation of Scouts? I’m sorry, you no longer meet our standards. Have you perhaps considered the US Military? Or the Girls Scouts for that matter?

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To read the full article, please visit The Good Men Project.

Same-Sex Marriage: What We’re Really Fighting For

April 2, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, MY 2 DADS

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While last week was a monumental one for marriage equality and its supporters, it was also quite eventful for our little family. A quick recap:

I was coming off a “theater high,” having performed the weekend prior in Xanadu with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. However, re-entry into real life was rather bumpy. I hadn’t been around for JJ’s nightly routine in almost a week, and he acquired a few new tricks in my absence: finding new (and unending) reasons to get of bed, coloring on walls, and a higher register in his screaming voice chief among them.

Our family dog baby girl was recovering from her third surgery in as many months — and she’s still not out of the woods.

Papa and I had our first date night in months. It was about as romantic as you’d expect between toddler parents (i.e. sharing stresses, trying to stay awake, drinking). Yet the real high point was me kneeling over the toilet at 4am, and then either parked on top of it or in bed for the next three days.

It wasn’t all screaming and sickness. An interview we’d done with NPR (not about gay marriage, but remote controls) aired on Morning Edition. While they used very little of what we recorded, and apparently I wasn’t miked well enough so can only be heard muttering in the background, it was great to hear Papa and JJ get some airtime!

Add to all that, ongoing struggles with money, work, eating/exercise habits, potty training, pacifier addiction, too much TV, not enough family time… It’s not surprising the Supreme Court hearings about Proposition 8 and DOMA snuck up on me.

I’m sure I’d gotten a dozen emails from various organizations I follow, and had even seen some chatter about it online. But with everything going on in my life, I was in a bit of a bubble… and not the cool Glinda the Good Witch kind.

So I was genuinely shocked when I logged onto Facebook late Tuesday morning and saw a sea of red — dozens and dozens of friends had replaced their profile photos with equal signs to show their support of same-sex marriage.

I was also genuinely moved. I not only felt accepted, but advocated for. And I felt a sense of community I’d never experienced on Facebook before. And it wasn’t just my LGBT friends — but a number of my heterosexual friends. It was having so many of them mixed in that made it feel more real, like more of a change had taken place.

As the day progressed, the numbers of red avatars grew. People (yours truly included) started creating their own versions, which ranged from the politically clever to the absurdly silly. Several  friends who’d made it to the rallies started posting photos of the crowds. Various news sites and blogs started uploading recordings from the hearings. And by the second day of hearings, there were already stories about the profile photo phenomenon happening on Facebook. All told, nearly 3 million people changed their profile pics to some variation of the red and pink equal sign.

I want to acknowledge all those straight friends in particular: I felt and appreciated the love. It didn’t just make me feel equal, it made me feel like I was being carried around on your shoulders at the end of Rudy.

Now before I get too sappy (too late?), I need to answer the question posed in the title.

What are we really fighting for?

While the show of virtual support was wonderful, and indicates in a small way how things have shifted, that’s not enough in itself. And the court battles are not just so we can get married. Gays have been creating their own weddings (commitment ceremonies, civil unions, beach parties) for decades. The same goes for building our own families, whether it’s through biology, adoption, surrogacy or circumstance. We’ve also learned ways to circumvent the walls blocking us from healthcare benefits, visitation rights, inheritance issues and parenting restrictions, so that we can protect these self-made families the best we can. We’re an industrious bunch.

But being a family is hard, regardless of who has what parts. And legal marriage makes all the stuff I’ve described — both the personal stories and the general issues — a little bit easier to manage. So to answer my question: We’re fighting for all of it. For marriage, for equality, for our families, for our lives.

Because when one week finds you dealing with food poisoning, dog surgeries, remote controls, temper tantrums and crayon graffiti, you’ll take all the legal/societal/spiritual/financial/emotional help you can get.

An abridged version of this article also appears on The Good Men Project.

Designer Daddy Goes to Annapolis

February 16, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DDQ&A, LEARNING CURVES

On a recent Thursday I saw a post on Facebook from fellow dad blogger Oren Miller, saying he would be meeting with the governor of Maryland, thus was soliciting questions from fellow Marylanders to take with him. He mentioned he was part of a group of parent bloggers the Governor’s office had invited for an informal Q&A regarding issues important to Maryland families. My immediate question – of course – was, “Do you have a gay parent blogger yet?” Oren, being the connected and generous fellow that he is, passed along my info which resulted in an official invite for the meeting…which was happening the very next day.

Giddy as all get-out, I quickly scrambled around, emailing, Facebooking and Tweeting (even LinkedIn-ing, I think) to get questions from friends and blog readers to take with me to Annapolis…so I wouldn’t look like a completely uninformed dolt. I ended up with a decent number, and narrowed it down to three priority questions to ask. I knew in a room full of bloggers my chances at getting a word in might be slim.

The next morning I sped through the nasty, wet traffic the nearly hour drive to Annapolis, eventually found parking, and trudged up the hill to the State House. Our meeting was in the Governor’s Reception Room — think the White House’s Roosevelt Room, only higher ceilings and more portraits of Maryland Governors. Our group consisted of 8 bloggers (5 moms, 3 dads), Governor O’Malley, and a few staffers.

The other guys in the group ribbed me for wearing a coat and tie and making them look bad. But in my research the night before, I’d been informed that O’Malley was not only the Governor of Maryland (home to the very recent Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens) but also a graduate of Gonzaga High School in DC. So my tie and my socks were purple (Designer Daddy’s got a rep to uphold) and I made sure to point that out when introducing myself to the Gov. I realized soon after though, that I was the only person NOT to specifically mention my child and how old he was. Smooth, huh?

The meeting was fairly informal, with Governor O’Malley talking a bit about the goals of the remainder of his term (which ends in 2014), using a projection of the office’s web site to illustrate certain points and show how citizens can keep track of the state’s goals and review progress in real time.

"Get a load of this guy in the purple tie."

Not surprisingly, the first blogger question was about education, as were many that followed. Education-related discussions included the quality of public schools vs. private; school meal programs and the overall issue of hunger; and the lack of mental health providers, among others. The issue of mental health inevitably led to the topic of gun control, at which point I was able to mention one of the questions on my list.

A store near our house sells toy trains and guns. It’s always seemed odd disturbing to me (and many others) to have a gun shop so near residential areas, within walking distance of several parks and schools. It was even broken into a few years ago — apparently the thieves weren’t into toy trains, as only guns were taken. I mentioned all this to the Governor in order to say, “I don’t know what the zoning laws are for gun shops, but it shouldn’t be on the way to walking my son to the park or preschool.”

My comment wasn’t addressed directly, but the topic of gun control was discussed in general. And in a follow up email we were invited to a rally in support of his Gun Violence Prevention Bill on March 1. Information on this bill and the rally are listed at the end of this post under Resources.

Somebody's not paying attention...

Our meeting was only an hour long, and by the time I’d gotten out one of my three points, we were already nearing the end. So at the close when the Governor asked if there were any further questions, I threw a Hail Mary to get in the comment I’d most wanted to:

“I just wanted to personally thank you. My partner and I moved to Maryland nine years ago, A) so we could afford to buy a house and because of the schools, and B) so we could adopt. I wanted to thank you for your support of the Same Sex Marriage Bill. It’s not a political issue for us; it’s our life, our family. We have a 3-year-old son, and I was excited the morning after the election to tell him that [his Daddy and Papa] were going to get married. He didn’t really understand what ‘ring bearer’ meant (laughter) — he thought it meant he was going to get to ring a bell. And I think since we already have rings, we’re just going to let him ring a big bell or something.” (More laughter)

(Pause) “So do you do weddings?” (More laughter)

Governor O’Malley’s reply, “I’ve never done a wedding. Technically I guess I’m allowed. I’ve never gone down that path, for fear that if I did one it would be impossible for me to justify saying no.” (Laughter)

He continued, “I think we found a broader way to communicate around that issue, by talking about the dignity of every child’s home. And I don’t think any of us agrees that’s it’s right or just that one child’s home would have lesser protections under the law than another child’s home depending on who their parents were.”

And with that, we wrapped things up, got a group photo in the Governor’s office, and said our final “thank yous” and goodbyes. As I was shaking O’Malley’s hand, I told him I’d mentioned to JJ the night before that I was going to meet the Governor, which didn’t register. I told him he was the President of Maryland, which seemed to impress him a bit. O’Malley got a chuckle out of that, then encouraged me to “Keep Kensington strong.” A very politician thing to say, but not a bad admonishment.

Gov. O'Malley with MD parent bloggers. I look like I just won a bodyguard reality show competition.

I realize this post isn’t very meaty with policy details. One thing I learned from this experience is that real politics — not the issues-driven sound bites that fuel most election year debates, but the statistics, dollars and logistics — boggles and numbs my mind. I have new appreciation for elected officials and those that work for and lobby them.

However, I did email all my questions to the Governor’s office. I’ll be sure and send answers to those that asked, as well as to anyone else who’d like to read them — just say so in the comments or a direct message. I’ve also included a Resources list below: links and documents provided by O’Malley’s office in reference to several of the topics we discussed in our meeting.

While there’s still much to be done to improve education and decrease hunger and gun violence, I came away from this experience hopeful for my state and the country as a whole. I was proud to have been able to thank the highest person in power that helped bring about marriage equality, and thrilled to have this as part of our family’s story. I imagine this will be one of those tales my son will grow weary of hearing as he (and I) grows older. Designer Daddy Goes to Annapolis

“Ugh, Dad’s telling the Governor story again!”

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Resources:

State of Maryland 15 Strategic Goals: https://data.maryland.gov/goals

Legislative agenda this session: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/legislation2013.asp

FY2014 Budget (includes graphs showing education investments): http://www.governor.maryland.gov/BudgetFY2014.asp

Governor’s State of the State Address: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/stateofstate2013.asp

Gun Violence Prevention Bill Facts:
“We can reduce gun violence without infringing on law abiding gun owners’ rights” http://www.governor.maryland.gov/blog/?p=8133

Press release on bill: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/blog/?p=8020

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EXTREMELY SILLY EPILOGUE:

My original intent on bringing up the Same Sex Marriage Bill was not only to thank the Governor for his support of it, but also to ask if there was something that had personally inspired him to be such a strong proponent on such a divisive and provocative issue. I never got to ask, but in researching afterwards I came across his bio on Wikipedia, and I think I found my answer…

Governor O’Malley is apparently a HUGE “Will & Grace” fan.
(Although I’m not sure what he’s got against Karen…)

Boy Scouts Delays Discussion on Lifting Gay Ban

February 9, 2013 | By Brent Almond | RASPBERRIES

When I heard the Boy Scouts of America might lift its ban on gay and lesbian scouts and leaders, I was pleasantly surprised. I was hopeful. I even had a funny, positive spin to put on it. But once again (at least for the foreseeable future) the BSA has given LGBT Americans the salute they think we deserve:

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What could a gay kid learn from the Boy Scouts anyway?

January 31, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES

  1. How to pitch a tent. (snicker)
  2. How to camp. (snap)
  3. How to tie knots. Lots and lots of knots.
  4. How to build a fire.
  5. How to cook dinner, wrapped in tin foil, over said fire.
  6. S’mores, s’chmores. How to bend a coat hanger to hold your Pop-Tart and toast it over said fire.
  7. Dirty jokes. Lots and lots of dirty jokes.
  8. CPR (No Scout-on-Scout mouth-to-mouth — with CPR Annie just like everyone else)
  9. Camping out in Central Illinois in mid-January is ball-shrivelingly cold.
  10. Sharing a sleeping bag with your Dad – while lame in theory – is quite beneficial when camping out in Central Illinois in mid-January.
  11. How to use a compass.
  12. How to read a map.
  13. How to survive overnight in the woods. Hint: don’t lose your bug spray.
  14. How to shit in the woods. How to clean up.
  15. Swear words. Lots and lots of swear words.
  16. How to carve, paint and race a car made of pine.
  17. How to rock some green shorts and a kerchief.
  18. How to sew. Badges, not ball gowns. (But badges onto a sash)
  19. How to dig a post hole… and what a post hole is.
  20. How to survive (in silence) doing manual labor, on minimal food and water for 2 days.
  21. You can make your parents proud for something other than drawing and good grades.
  22. If you make them really proud and get inducted into the Order of the Arrow, they’ll buy you a silver arrowhead necklace inlaid with turquoise.
  23. That Scouts, much like band and ROTC, are toxic to popularity.
  24. That Life is pretty cool, but Eagle is way better.
  25. That I should have stuck with it.

Earlier this week it was reported that the Boy Scouts may overturn their ban on allowing openly gay and lesbian scouts and leaders. While much of the motivation may come from loss of funding and declining membership, it’s still a positive sign that an organization as old and entrenched as the BSA — who very recently voted to keep the ban — is headed in the right direction.

I loathed much of my time as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout — I would have much rather stayed inside to work on my Superhero Drawing and TV-Watching Merit Badges — but I genuinely value the ways it tested me and got me out of my shell, if not out of the closet. Religious arguments aside, (please God, just this once?) many may wonder why a gay kid would want to be a Scout anyway, what with all the hiking and bad food and troops of straight people. But the same arguments have been used about the military. And professional sports. And marriage (okay, not as much hiking there). But this gay learned a lot from his experience in the Scouts. And while it may not have been my canteen of pond water, I deserved to experience the mastery and the misery just like every other red-blooded American kid. And I’m more trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent because of it.

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Any other LGBT former (or current) Scouts out there? What was your experience like? Please leave a comment and get your Blog Commenting Badge!