“The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent Was a Summer in San Francisco”
We left Chicago when the temperature outside was 100 degrees, only to arrive in San Francisco where the ambient air reached 66 mid-day. To the hopelessly Midwestern, this is a freak of nature. It starts out cold, damp and dreary, turns warmer and sunny during the afternoon, then sinks into a chilly, foggy, dampness that seeps into your bones by evening. By the end of each day, I changed clothes three times and never felt completely comfortable.
The interesting thing about this is that those acclimated to the area don’t seem to be particularly discomfited by the changes in the weather. They shrug their shoulders and go about their business as if this were all perfectly normal. And maybe it is. Maybe their acceptance of what they cannot control is no big deal.
It’s a philosophy others could stand to embrace. In the Bay Area, people generally accept not only the weather, but also each other.
That’s why despite the winter-like summer weather, I like San Francisco. And that’s why so many people flock to that area. They don’t have to worry about being judged for who they are. They don’t have to listen to debates about whether or not being gay is a choice. They don’t have to tolerate lectures about sin, abomination, or eternal damnation. Life, like the daily changes in the weather, is predictably tolerable.
And so, when both my sons independently asked me to dig out their Eagle Scout certificates and medals so they could return them to the BSA headquarters, I became very sad. The Boy Scouts of America, having met in secret for two years, has decided to maintain their position that if you are gay, you are not okay. In doing so, they reinforced that they are predictably intolerant.
My boys weren’t in Boy Scouts because it was a Para-military organization. The members of their troops enjoyed hiking, camping, and high adventure. The men who ran them believed in meeting individual needs and helping boys have a great time. They encouraged boys to achieve, but if they were in it just for the camping, that was cool too. They accepted each boy and his individuality. They respected each young man for what he brought into scouting. They rejoiced in what each boy got out of it. They didn’t judge.
But for the national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America that is clearly not the case. Since the BSA is a private organization, the Supreme Court has ruled that they are entitled to exclude whoever they like. And, they have chosen to exclude anyone who is LGBTQ. So, both of my sons, each the recipient of the highest award in scouting have chosen to say, “we find your position of exclusion based on a person’s sexual orientation or sexual identity unacceptable, and we no longer want to be associated with an organization that so clearly discriminates.”
Their decision fills me with great discontent. While I believe that their decision to disavow any association with an organization that openly discriminates takes great character, I am angry that the BSA has forced them to take such a strong stance.
I dutifully went through their boxes and bins searching for their respective medals and certificates. I pored through countless pictures of their smiling, filthy, camp-worn faces. I looked at scores of papers, badges, and pamphlets. Each one reflected years filled with adventure, wonder, enrichment, hard work, and fun.
It was a journey back in time that reminded me that when my boys were Boy Scouts, we were ALL in scouting. When they wanted to attain Eagle Scout, we
ALL worked to help them achieve that goal. For us, it was a family affair. We never regretted the hours, the expense, or the dedication. Because achieving the rank of Eagle Scout meant belonging to a group of men who showed the strength of character to work for an important goal. It had nothing to do with their sexuality.
The day my oldest son received his Eagle Scout award, he was gay. We didn’t know it, but he was gay. He was gay the next day, and the next day, and he has been gay every day since then. Being gay has not diminished his character. But the character of the Boy Scouts of America has most certainly diminished.
So, this is my summer of discontent. And I will not be CONTENT until the discriminatory laws in this country against LGBTQ individuals are overturned . . . because no matter what the weather, I’ll never find discrimination, intolerance, and injustice acceptable.
. . . And I’m just a mom who loves her son . . .
Previously published in www.thequ.co