This post first appeared a few years ago as an article for Our Big Gayborhood. I was truly honored to be a regular monthly contributor, but now that the site has been taken down, I am going to be re-posting my articles here. Under the amazing editorial guidance of Lori Hahn and Margo Moon, there was a phenomenal group of writers that contributed to OBG. It was quite a ride while it lasted. Although I wrote about my son’s scouting activities recently, this piece was written specifically around Memorial Day and so I thought it a fitting piece to start off with.
My son was born in 2000. The very same year that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America could decide who represented their organization, including the discrimination against gays both as leaders and as members. Back then, his “mama” and I were staunchly anti-scouting because scouts were staunchly anti-homosexual. Yet 7 years later, as a single mother, I found myself proudly signing my second-grader up for cub scouts.
I am fully aware of the scouts’ beliefs and attitudes toward homosexuals. There is a big part of me that abhors the notion that the organization believes that being gay is contrary to the scout oath to be “clean in word and deed.” While there are many things in my life that would probably not be considered by many to be clean in word and deed, I do have a very strong moral and ethical base—one that I hope to pass along to my child. I fought an internal battle before I got him involved in scouting. I spoke at length with my ex about it and surprisingly, she agreed it was a good move. We live in an area that is fraught with gang violence (are there many areas that aren’t any more?). He is exposed to people who are actively using drugs. He has had more than his share of exposure to alcoholics and those who drink under age. It is the nature of the place we live.
My combative measures included more involvement in volunteer work. My son and I serve dinner to the homeless and work with the food pantry. He never fails to recognize the regulars and call out to them. He enjoys his time there and we always come away with food for thought, so to speak. Church has played a big part in our lives. I sing in the choir and, on the weekends that he is not visiting his mama, he sits with the congregation before attending Sunday School. A big part of my plan has been to involve him in athletic activities and he now believes that his future lies with the NBA. I keep telling him not to quit his day job just yet. My final plan of attack against the onslaught of his pre-teen years was to get him into scouting.
Making the decision to do so required that I turn my back on all that I thought was wrong. I do not take homophobia or gay-bashing lightly. While I’m not extremely political, I do stand up for what I believe in. But when it comes to my child, I have to decide which ethics are more important. I have watched my son grow into a self-confident young man. He is, for the most part, polite and respectful of others. In his uniform he stands tall and proud. Last week he volunteered to wear his uniform to school and to escort the honored Veterans to the stage for the Memorial Day concert. This morning, we got up early and joined the local VFW members as they decorated the graves of fellow Vets. It was a momentous occasion for us; while I absolutely do not support war (I grew up a pacifist Quaker), I most certainly support those who volunteer their time and often their lives to protect our freedom.
Perhaps I’m getting more conventional as I get older. Perhaps I am growing more conservative. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my son’s participation in scouting is a good thing. He is more social, better educated, more responsible, and leans toward a higher moral ground because of it. This moral ground does not preclude him from fully accepting and allowing the fact that his mother is a lesbian. And, now that I’ve outed myself to the community fully, I’ve experienced no negative repercussions whatsoever. I guess they haven’t yet figured out what to do with dyke moms of cub scouts. Or maybe I’m just one of the non-threatening ones. Regardless, my son and I will be marching in the Veteran’s Day Parade on Monday. We look and act just like all of the other scouts and their proud parents. My secret hope is that, as my child works toward his coveted level of Eagle Scout, he continues to be okay with me and with our life together—and by virtue of his acceptance, he might be able to turn the tide in our direction.