Boy Scouts, Religion, & Homophobia

The 2013 Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia (HAHAT) has ended. The experience, from the easy-to-follow directions I received about what to do to feedback about my post, was nothing but positive. Thanks so much to the organizers for bringing attention to an important issue and for allowing me to participate.

My HAHAT post is among the most popular posts on my blog this year, receiving the most comments ever. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, whether you commented or not. The winner of the autographed copy of Until Thanksgiving is aspiring author Sophie Bonaste. Congratulations!

While we’re on the subject of homophobia, I must weigh-in on the uproar about the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to open troops to gay kids. If they eliminate the stupid ban on openly gay leaders, I might have to dig my Eagle medal from the bottom of my memory box. Openly gay men aren’t the guys to worry about — just ask the Catholic church.

This being the United States, everyone is free to believe whatever they want about God. Freedom of religion also means I should be able to live free of religion. Religious-based hatred has been the bane of my existence since I came out nearly four decades ago. Like the racist with black pals, many of my friends are religious. Professed devoutness doesn’t impress me much. Actions speak louder than words, especially when they don’t match up.

The outcry from religious conservatives about B.S.A. abandoning moral values infuriates me. Being gay, in and of itself, doesn’t make me immoral, anymore than being straight makes someone moral. If you ask me, the immorality issue around homosexuality is a self-fulfilling prophecy heaped upon LGBT individuals by uptight religious freaks whose time would be better spent tending to their own sins.

I was a good kid, attending mass every Sunday and parochial school in first and second grade. My moral compass was on track when I entered public schools. My experience in scouts built upon that moral foundation. As an Eagle scout, I believed morality came down to being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. I graduated from high school, my virginity intact — the all-American boy next door.

I didn’t catch gay. Gay didn’t just happen to me, either. It’s the way I was born — or if you prefer, how God made me. Never mind he didn’t see fit to clue me into this until I was 21 years old. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Coming out rendered useless everything I’d ever learned about morality. Why? Because my priest told me homosexual acts were immoral. He explained that being homosexual was okay, as long as I never acted on it — all well and good from a man who’d taken a vow of celibacy. I, however, had taken no such vow and had no intention of doing so.

My descent wasn’t gradual. I fell off a cliff. Having indulged my baser instincts, I believed in my heart of hearts I would burn in hell for all eternity. Since I was going to hell anyway, engaging in all kinds of immoral and amoral behavior cost me nothing. True, I could always take the pledge and bask in the glow of salvation. I’d just as soon give up ice cream.

The Boy Scouts of America opening the door is a step in the right direction. Perhaps these kids will understand that being gay doesn’t negate the morals instilled in them from birth. Maybe they can keep loving themselves, free of the self-loathing that stems from archaic views about something unchangeable. Then maybe the river of blood from all the homosexuals who die every year from suicide, self-destructive behaviors, and violence will slow to a trickle.

As to the churches who turn away from B.S.A., a pox on your houses. Through your actions, you judge and condemn current and future generations for something you clearly don’t understand. Rather than picking and choosing, I’d encourage you to read and follow ALL the directions in your holy texts. Until then, for the love of Christ, shut the hell up.

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