Editors' Note: Guest blogger Jeremy Redlien is the author of the blog Queering the Closet and holds a bachelor degree in Philosophy with a minor in Mathematics from SUNY Oneonta.
Everybody should know by now of the homophobic "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy held by the Boy Scouts of America, so I won't spend time rehashing that story. Yesterday the BSA put out a press release, describing a secret committee that they put together for the purpose of "evaluating" said policy. In short, the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is here to stay.
There are those who argue that the policy does not matter, that it is not worth the LGBTQ community fighting. To this I must strongly disagree. The BSA's policy does matter and it does have a negative impact on the LGBTQ community, particularly the youth.
I was a member of the Scouting movement until I turned 18. I came within a few merit badges short of earning the rank of Eagle Scout, which less than 2 percent of all scouts who enrolled in the program complete. In Troop 16 I eventually ended up serving as Senior Patrol Leader, which is essentially the youth leader of the troop. I was also inducted into the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts honor society.
Even though as a youth I had known for years about my sexual orientation, I stayed in the closet until I turned 18. My reasoning for doing so had a great deal to do with the Boy Scout's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
Hiding ones identity always comes with a cost. During my senior year of high school, I worked diligently on completing the final requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout. Deep down, part of me wanted to spite the BSA. To say, "Ha, Ha, you're wrong, we are just as good as you."
It was during my senior year of high school that the hiding took it's toll. The mental dissonance that comes from being told a constant message of "you are inferior, get lost freak" from all authorities wore at me until I finally broke.
While I was in the middle of working on my Eagle Scout Project (which consisted of repairing an old storage shed at the Methodist Church I attended) I attempted to commit suicide.