I Was A Boy Scout

I usually don’t debate important issues, and by important issues, I mean ones dealing with heavy social, economic or political points. It’s not for the fear that I’d be bad at it, because practice tends to indeed make perfect, but I find myself far more adept at things like arguing why Hulk Hogan’s Suburban Commando is the greatest family film of all time (it really is), and why Luke Bryan’s lyrics make him look like an insane psychopath.

However, considering that I was a Boy Scout, I find myself drawn to express my opinion. If you haven’t heard, the Boy Scouts of America aren’t allowing homosexuals into their ranks. Before I go any farther, let me say that I’m probably as stereotypical of a heterosexual male as you’re going to find. The “gayest” thing I do is enjoy cranberry vodkas while watching Jean Claude Van Damme split montages on YouTube. I’m not exactly ignorant of the LBGT movement, but if you asked me to write an essay about it, I’d simply hand you my copy of WWE: The Best of King of the Ring and shrug.

I was a Boy Scout at the perfect time for me to be a Boy Scout. I know that it doesn’t seem likely for someone whose job it is to write jokes on the internet, but a lot of my childhood left me unhappy. I just didn’t know how to make friends well. I was too loud, too “out there.” My social skills included carrying a Game Boy Color and link cable with me everywhere I went and awkwardly ranting about how great The Lost World: Jurassic Park was until someone was asleep enough to listen.

I didn’t get social cues like other kids did. I couldn’t relate to anyone, and it left me feeling excluded. I wasn’t invited to birthday parties or gatherings at the pool that all my peers went to. I was bullied to an absurd extent, and let me tell you, if you don’t know how to make friends, it’s even harder to extricate yourself from the people that definitely aren’t them.

Joining the Scouts, along with my brother, and my Dad who joined as an Assistant Scoutmaster, was one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. My Dad is the best man on the planet, a mix of strength and emotional stability that helped to guide me through a long series of years where I had neither of those attributes.

Maybe that’s why he thought that signing me up for the group would do me well. I’m not a father (The closest thing I have to a kid is my Criterion BluRay of Rosemary’s Baby and you better not fucking touch it), but I imagine that it’s hard watching your oldest child, someone that should be full of promise, unable to express himself and grow because he just isn’t like the other kids. I can’t thank my father enough for putting me in a blue uniform and setting me amongst other boys who felt just as displaced as I did.

My Scout Troop was full of kids who didn’t fit in. Kids from broken homes, kids with nearly debilitating disorders, kids who needed some sort of purpose in their life besides go to school and hope no one poured grape juice in their sweatshirt hood. They weren’t in there because they absolutely didn’t belong elsewhere, they were in there because, maybe, it would help them out. It wasn’t a solution to their problems, but holy shit, when the same kid makes you cry every day because your arms are too noodle-like to push back, waking up in a tent, to the smell of your Dad making eggs and bacon for you and all your other great, great weirdo friends is fucking fantastic. And even if it wasn’t my Dad, it was someone else’s Dad making the breakfast or leading the hikes or teaching us how climb rock walls and canoe down rivers.

Am I a perfect person now? Nope. I curse too much and I can’t stick to a workout plan to save my life and when I drink, I drink to kill, but for the years of ten to sixteen, I had a place that I could go to. Everyone needs a place, just like everyone needs somebody. I had both of those things, and I didn’t have to work to get them. Sure, I had to defeat my natural interests to get a wood carving badge and the first attempt at repelling down a mountain left me as more tears than man, but I was accepted.

You came to Scout meetings every Tuesday night and you worked and played and planned for those amazing weekend trips where you’d whitewater raft all day and learn new card games around a campfire at night. You’d go home exhausted, still laughing with your friends about Daniel’s Bill Cosby impression or Nathan falling in a river again or Matthew hitting on the hot girl who was cashier at the trading post. It was great.

Don’t fucking take that opportunity away from boys because of petty homophobia. There aren’t going to be any “I Learned How To Blow A Dude While Tying A Lanyard” Merit Badges created and the uniforms won’t be changed from blue/tan to Pansy Rainbow/Rollerskate While Wearing A Thong Teal. And I know it might come as a shock, but I don’t think God will mind if you accept people for who they are, despite disagreeing with their views a little bit.

I don’t know how hard it is to grow up gay in today’s world, but I’ve heard people call other people “faggot” in the most malicious context possible to think that it might be sort of difficult. So let homosexuals join the Boy Scouts of America. No one deserves to be unhappy, especially not kids in their most formative years. I’m not the best, but considering how I was, it did wonders for me.

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