Pub. Date: March 1, 2013 Weight: 217 lbs
I am an Eagle Scout. However, because of the discriminatory membership position of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) since 1978 I do not include my Eagle Scout accomplishment on my resume. Because being identified as an Eagle is equated with countenancing bigotry. I find that juxtaposition embarrassing.
I am a 10 year U.S. Army veteran. Airborne. Ranger. Intelligence. Cavalry Scout. My last unit was 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment with the motto: “Toujours Pret” (Be Prepared).
I am a parent. Two of my six sons are gay.
I am a brother. My identical twin who has his Eagle and also is a National Guard veteran, is gay.
I am a son. My parents were on the national board of Latter-day Saint (LDS) Affirmation. They advocated for compassion and equality for gay LDS, until they were threatened with excommunication.
I have made a decision: because of the impending proposed membership policy change to be voted on by the BSA National Council the week of 20 May I will be riding my bicycle unsupported from Ammon, ID to BSA Headquarters in Irving, Texas. 1440 miles. I go to either celebrate victory for the proposed change, or if the initiative fails, to pin my objections to the door of the BSA HQs with my Eagle badge. And there leave it. I will have no further use for it.
The local news channel has expressed interest in this story. The idea is since local interest is very high, this will provide some background as well as local human interest story as the national policy comes to the fore-front during those two weeks leading up to the National Conference decision. They will pass the camera to local affiliates along the way and probably arrange for a local interview at the BSA HQs destination.
In January, just prior to the BSA Executive punt on the decision to let the National Council weigh in on it I called the local BSA Council Professional Scouter Clarke Farrer. He told me his phone had been ringing constantly for two weeks, on account of this issue. Dealing with responding to inquiries had been his full-time job leading up to the punt. He was most interested, respectful and asked penetrating questions of me during our conversation. We talked for 20 minutes. He thanked me profusely for my call. He also said, that in those two weeks my voice was the only voice in the affirmative that he had heard. He also asked me if I would send him the [redacted] affirmation policy.
I am also an employee. An employee of a terrific company that has an affirmation policy that makes gay-loving people like myself weep. Our corporate stance is beautiful. It sits like a flower of hope and light in a local cultural landscape largely bereft of positive affirmations for gay and gay-loving people like me. (Breaking Boundaries and PFLAG are other flowers of hope). You must know that these thoughts represent only me and my opinion and in no-way am I a representative of the INL.
This bicycle trip has been thrown as an Adventure and a Challenge to the BSA Facebook page under the heading “Are you tougher than a Boy Scout?” My challenge is: “Are you tougher than THIS Boy Scout?” In reality this trip will be tough. Each day is a “century ride” (greater than 100 miles). The first six days’ daily elevation gain will be greater than the “gold standard” of mountaineering elevation in the continental US – the summit day of climbing Mt. Rainier, or its inverse, hiking the Grand Canyon. The entire trip’s total elevation gain will be the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. Twice. From sea-level. In fourteen days. In short – “Are you tougher than this gay-loving Eagle Scout?”
Finally: my U.S. Army Reserve son deployed for 1 year to Kuwait, is returning 10 days prior to me leaving on this Adventure and Challenge. He has expressed interest in joining my bicycle ride and pointing out that the Army has been gay-affirmative for nearly two years with no measurable down-side. He will be doing this as preparation for his petition to go to Ranger School.
I make this promise: I was silent on this policy for 25 years. This old scout promises to no longer be silent on this issue. I am moving out with a purpose to see this shameful policy overturned. This blog is my tale of this journey. I leave in 65 days.
Who’s with me?
|This Old Scout: Dave McGrath|
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©2013 by David O. McGrath