In case you haven’t heard, I have joined the ever-growing number of Eagle Scouts across the country who are turning in their awards in protest over Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policies.
I first announced my position here on my blog and then I cross-posted over to the Huffington Post. Three days later the Huffington Post approved the post and placed it on their front page for more than a day.
Folks at Talk of the Nation read the post and invited me on. Listen to me chatting with host Neal Conan and fielding calls.
Over the past week I’ve received an outpouring of support.
As soon as I got off the radio, Billy, the gay Eagle Scout marrying my cousin, told me that he was going to send his badge back, too.
A gay friend wrote me on Facebook: Kelsey, thank you. I read this out loud to [my partner] as I was trying to soothe our baby girl, Grace, and started to cry. It means a lot when a straight white male (with such enormous biceps) sticks up for the gays.
Each of the above was worth 10,000 negative comments.
And there were plenty of negative comments, too. I received this email from a fella by the name of Jim Miazza:
“I watched my 2 sons earn Eagle, I am gld that BSA National protected them from but f-ers like you.”
I don’t mind being on the other side of any issue with that guy!
Still, when people praise me for my stand, I sort of hang my head and take the compliment. I wish I could look into the distance, put my fists on my hips, and say something meaningful about truth, justice, and the American way. Instead I stare at the ground and mumble a thank you.
It’s been a week since all of this began and I think I’ve finally figured out why I can’t whole-heartedly accept the praise.
First, I’m sad that an organization that provided me with so many wonderful experiences continues to move in a direction that excludes an entire group of Americans.
I suffer from everybody Loves Raymond Syndrome.
I grew up in a place where there are many folks who would disagree with me. Despite our different views of the world, these people are my friends, family, fellow scouts, and neighbors. While I’m able to separate debate on issues like this from personal attacks, I worry that they won’t.
I don’t like not being liked.
I have to feed my family.
I speak at a wide array of schools of varying sizes and ideologies. This is one of the primary ways that I feed my family and spread my message. Before I stood up on this issue, I considered how this could negatively impact my relationship with such schools. Would I have invitations retracted? Would I receive fewer requests? How could speaking out negatively impact my career?
I don’t have the time.
I leave for Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa on Friday to continue researching my next book. I have a lot of writing and pre-travel loose ends to tie up. I have other things to do. I’m too busy to stand.
A friend I worked with as a SCUBA instructor in Key West wrote me: “You, my FRIEND, are a hero. Ya got the stones of a GIANT.”
I think a hero wouldn’t hesitate to stand up. I looked around, dipped my toe in the water, had a bunch of selfish thoughts, stepped back to consider some more, and then reluctantly stood.
I could have played it safe and stayed silent. I actually considered turning down Talk of the Nation. Instead, I stood and continue to do so. Tonight I’ll be speaking out on the Alan Colmes Show shortly after 11PM. I just received an email from GLAAD (Gays & Lesbians Alliance Against Defamation) wanting me to join their efforts. I will.
Standing isn’t always safe or convenient, but you do it when what’s inside of you ignores all of the reasons you shouldn’t
I stand because I value the lessons that Boy Scouts instilled in me.
I stand for my son Griffin who I hope will join Scouts if they change their anti-gay policy.
I stand for the gay scouts who shouldn’t have to stand alone.
I stand because this issue is bigger than me.
I stand not because I’m a hero, but because I’m a former Eagle Scout.