Posted by Bob Lord
Shortly after my post, Teaching Bigotry to Youth, I received an email from a friend, who is gay, thanking me for the post and, more importantly, giving me his perspective as a gay man. I often wonder if the reason many homophobes have such a hard time with this issue is that they have no gay friends or acquaintances, and therefore no real understanding. But even for those who don't fall in that category, I thought my friend's words were enlightening. His email appears after the jump, with a few names deleted.
Thanks for your blog on the boy scouts and your repost to some of the responses. I thought most of what was said was quite tame compared to other homophobic comments I’ve experienced over my life. For me, the big issue is belonging. Boy Scouts create a belonging that boys are able to feel accepted as part of a group, included. It’s not so much someone gay wanting to join, but all those boys (and men), who have been part of an inclusive group for many, many years and then because they discover they are gay are thrown out and lose a major peer support system. It’s often the experience gays and lesbians have had within families, to be all fine one day and then the next an alien, a stranger, excluded for belonging in so many ways. Both <> and I have experienced such alienation. Kind of like I’ve said to Tammy [Bob: my wife] in my last email, this experience of being the excluded outsider has had repercussions throughout our lives. I say this even though I think of <> and I as Norman normal, well adjusted, highly functioning people in a long term highly committed loving relationship. It makes one somehow constantly on alert, on guard, setting fag enablers to stun as I’ve said before. We are fine of course, so It’s not about us, but about the generations to follow, that I don’t want to go through the same old crap as we did. There is an extremely high suicide rate among lesbian and gay youth. I get very angry. Have you seen the on-line “It gets better,” campaign. So many people, gay and straight have contributed to it, even Clinton and Obama. A few months ago a 15 year old boy, out at school and running a gay/lesbian alliance group, who had made a great contribution to this project with his own video, still hung himself because of all the homophobic bullying he experienced. If you can get hold of it, watch a documentary called “Out in the Silence.” There is a website and movement to challenge the bullying. The documentary is very moving, the experience of a 15 year old boy in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Happy ending.
For me one of the worst examples with the boy scouts was a few months ago. An 18 year old had been in the scouts since he was 7. His dad was a scout leader. He had passed every scouting badge with merit. He was a pillar of his scout group. He applied to become an Eagle Scout. He passed whatever it is you need to pass with honour. The guy who was to bestow this was some guy senior to the boy’s father. The bastard refused to award the guy Eagle Scout status, because a few months before he’d come out as gay. He was also told he had to leave the Scouts Troup. His dad resigned.
Say one of the boys turned out to be gay. I can imagine the crazy situation of the gay one being told you can’t be a scout anymore, but your straight brother can stay.
As you comment, the tax exemptions are an issue. Boy Scouts of American have large public building holdings around Philadelphia. There was a court case about 4 years ago because they would not lease premises to Gay/Lesbian Switchboard. Boy Scouts won and there was discussion about them losing grants from local government, but of course this didn’t happen.
Something again American last year, don’t know where anymore. A 16 year old came out as gay to his father. The father beat him up and then took him to a brothel and forced him to have sex with a woman in order to” make him straight”. He even wanted to see evidence that the boy had cum. Really, how sick can anyone get. That sickened me. That boy will take years and years to get over such an experience. The dad should have been charged with abuse, but of course that only happens in the movies.
I get angry.
Thanks for standing up for us. Good to speak to you briefly again when I was talking to Tammy the other day.
Neither of us have enjoyed our first day back at work, but guess we’ll get used to it again.
My friend is just an average guy. The biggest difference between he and I is that he was born gay and I was born straight. Otherwise, we have similar world views and probably are at about the same level of intelligence. Tammy often jokes about our similar world views, saying we're brothers from other mothers. So, does it really make sense that he should be treated so much differently by society, so much more harshly, than I?