Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale

Scouting Tolerance


Update: This post was adapted by The Huffington Post. You can find that article here.

“We all live with the objective of being happy, our lives are all different and yet the same.” –Anne Frank

Amazing natural phenomenon where the Baltic and North Seas meet but don't mix because of the differing density

“Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets.” –Benjamin Disraeli

As a child, I was taught that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Dad’s particular corollary—pick your battles, as it’s not always worth it to be “right”—has served him well in the Army, so I’ve long aspired to apply its wisdom to my life. For this reason, it always made a sort of intuitive sense to seek mutual understanding and deescalate conflict rather than appeal to the choir in a scorched-earth crusade for feel-good “authenticity”. There is little value in a crown of bitterness, however righteous.

This philosophy of living, it turns out, is wonderfully conducive to maintaining close, mutually edifying relationships with many people whose political and ideological priorities would, I strongly suspect, be the ruin of America (and Western civilization) if ever realized. I have well-meaning friends who oppose gay marriage, distrust the military, hate guns, disdain football, loathe the South, think highly of France, want ever higher taxes, and blaspheme the Southeastern Conference. I don’t need my loved ones to agree with me on all that’s right and true, and I have defended those whose positions I reject. I just need the people I care about to be willing to hear me and understand where I’m coming from. Where consideration is given, it is returned.

Accordingly, I’m not terribly surprised by the development of what might seem an unlikely friendship between LGBT activist Shane Windmeyer of Campus Pride and noted evangelical Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A. If there is any virtue in “tolerance” and “diversity”, you can find it in this:

“Dan, in his heart, is driven by his desire to minister to others and had to choose to continue our relationship throughout this controversy. He had to both hold to his beliefs and welcome me into them. He had to face the issue of respecting my viewpoints and life even while not being able to reconcile them with his belief system. He defined this to me as “the blessing of growth.” He expanded his world without abandoning it. I did, as well. [My emphasis]”

And thus a chasm was bridged.

Just last summer, as another bitter presidential campaign launched into orbit, the Boy Scouts closed a two-year study by reaffirming their ban on gay scouts and leaders. By then, there was something resembling growing public consensus in favor of including gays, and both presidential candidates were on record supporting that consensus. Still, the Boy Scouts were primarily backed by religious organizations that preferred the status quo, and so it held. Now, however, it seems that policy might change, after all, much to the chagrin of some—though certainly not all—of the faithful.

If the Boy Scouts decide to shed their national requirement to exclude gays, there will not necessarily be a sudden, massive change-of-heart within the ranks any more than Dan Cathy is now a gay rights activist because of his friendship with Shane Windmeyer. While those troops that have long been gay-friendly will be able to come out of glass closets, others will be allowed to maintain their locally decided ban on gays. In short, a new world won’t be built overnight. What will matter is that fewer members will be rejected for being who they are, and religious conservatives will not be compelled to contravene their values. In an ideal world, people from various perspectives will find new occasions and opportunities to understand one another, to everyone’s benefit. Even if not all minds ever fully change, there is hope in the possibility of harmony emerging from where once there thrived grievance and resentment.

Wherever you fall on this or any issue, there is often a world of difference between being wrong and being evil. We don’t have to all agree on the content or path to a better world of enduring fulfillment and mutual respect, but we can at least acknowledge that we each strive for one. If nothing else, may we always have at least that much in common.

We can agree to disagree.


Author: Rek

A gay Southern conservative with a fondness for God, guns, and gridiron. I'm a veritable pocket full of sunshine.

61 thoughts on “Scouting Tolerance

  1. Pingback: How a Gay Student Goes to an LGBT Meeting and Ends Up Eating Crow | Tyler Lehmann

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful sharing! I remember valuable times in nature as a boy scout, decades ago. May all be feel free and safe in their hearts and have the wisdom of non-discrimination.

  3. Props to you for taking a kind, yet unfaltering stand in all that you believe in. It’s very rare that you find someone both chalk full of opinions, yet at the same time willing to accept. Thank you for sharing!

  4. It’s time for the Boy Scouts to embrace ALL boys and let them know that they’re ALL ok and ALL welcome.

  5. Why can’t more people in politics have your attitude? It would save us a lot of headaches.

  6. Great Post!! More of us should be so diverse in our thinking!

  7. I remember feeling very disappointed when I had registered my son in Boy Scouts (beavers) and it was the first year that girls were also able to attend. I had placed (forced) him into the program so that he could learn to build working relationships with other little boys, as he had always gravitated to girls as his primary source of companionship.

    Years later, and out of the closet, he confessed to me that he hated Boy Scouts and would’ve preferred to have attended Girl Scouts (apparently, many of the girls who attended Boy Scouts were, “too butch” in his opinion, and he had always leaned toward befriending the girls with overly feminine characteristics.)

    In the end, true inclusion is what allows a child to grow up to be a more loving, and compassionate human being. Life has enough battles which can fill our adult years. Let us not foist them upon our young.

    Our capacity to learn when our minds are open, (even if we should disagree) is the hallmark of wisdom – of which you seem to have much.

  8. We should all have scouting tolerance! Don’t you agree?

  9. I will be in the minority here and say the the Boy and Girl Scouts should not bend to liberal/progressive bending ways, but should remain pure to their first and core virtues.


    • I suppose we should do what your good book says and throw stones at Gay’s,and Female Adulteresses so we can watch the blood boil out of their wounds as they die a humiliating wretched painful death? If you disagree with this notion that your bible submits then you disagree with your GOD. If you agree with this notion then you are nothing more than a murderer at heart. Bask in the glory of your wonderful book and have a great day. J/K about have a great day.

  10. PS. I’m tired of liberals throwing the word, “Tolerance” out there to try to get Christians to accept behaviors of perversion. Connie

    • I’m tired of Christians throwing the word “perversion” around in order to justify their own bigotry while willfully remaining ignorant of the social and biological evidence poised against their supremely outdated ethics.

      • True Christians ‘throw around’ words that God uses, in order to shed light on what they (we) believe will keep a person from being reconciled to God ultimately. Isn’t it bigotry to say that those who adhere to what the Bible says are bigots? So be it, this world has no acceptance for those who love God and His word, or for those who love people enough to tell them the truth about their sin. In today’s world, calling sin what it is, is not appreciated, even though in reality, no one comes to God for forgiveness and healing if they don’t first see how desperately wicked they are.

        This is a well-written post, and I hope the author finds wholeness in Christ one day, because I love him in the Lord, and understand much of what his life is about.


      • oneintercessor:
        You forgot to mention the very human and not very divine urge to control how other people live their lives.

        Don’t you see how others dislike when a group of people go around calling others wicked for no real (as opposed to fiction) reason.

    • I’m tired of so called Christians being so fixated on sex.

    • I agree with Constance.

    • “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” The problem is that you book is full of contradictions. I would shy away from judging people based on their personal affinities, and focus on yourself. If you think you book is true, then worry about your damn self. People who use logic, and reason, know where morality comes from and it sure as hell isn’t found in the bible

      • You used the term, “as sure as hell”. It’s sure, alright.

        Believe what the Bible says: “Jesus died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised on the third day”. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), Be baptized for the remission of your past sins (Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:15-16), and stop being so contrary and hateful towards God and Christ. Surrender to Jesus and you will, ass sure as there is a hell, be able to avoid it. Connie

      • no thanks if your god is real I I know it isnt but if it were id rather go do hell, its disgusting, hateful, and it creates intolerant ignorant freaks like you.=!

      • Come to Jesus, and live. I’m saying this not out of hate but out of love. There is a hell. Jesus died to save you from that place.

      • Constance: Sounds like what your’e saying is: Do as I say or go to hell. A loving God would not express itself that way. I’d rather have a God who did not create hell.

    • Jesus was the most tolerant, loving man to ever live. Why can’t more Christians be like him?

      • Jesus was not tolerant of on going, unrepentant sin. He died because of our sins. He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more, and the man he healed beside the pool to stop sinning or something worse wouldl happen to him. God hates sin, and that includes every form of sexual perversion/immorality. There is no darkness in God at all. 1 John 1:5

      • Jesus was not tolerant of on going, unrepentant sin. He died because of our sins. He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more, and the man he healed beside the pool to stop sinning or something worse would happen to him. God hates sin, and that includes every form of sexual perversion/immorality. There is no darkness in God at all. 1 John 1:5

      • If it really was sin that God hated, and not the sinners, he would come up with a way of erasing sin without hurting the sinners. But since it’s not God at all who punishes the sinners, but people, this logic makes sense. Many people hates sinners. I wonder what God thinks about these haters, or the hate itself. I bet it was a person, not God, who threatened the healed man.

  11. A thoughtful, and timely post. I struggled with (and blogged about) allowing my son to join an overseas scouts troop, both for political and religious reasons. He is part of a very inclusive, very liberal transatlantic den and that eased the way…a bit. I am still uncomfortable, but applaud the organization for seriously considering lifting the ban, despite the backlash it would undoubtedly inspire if indeed it is lifted.

  12. This is a lovely post!
    I agree that our opinions shouldn’t restrict us from forming friendships with those who disagree with us.
    If we did that, what would be the point of promoting free speech and living in a diverse country?
    As someone with friends who have different views, I can testify that not only does this make conversations more interesting, but also helps me expand my knowledge and discover 2 sides to 1 story.

  13. Holy crap … so much to say … BUT you are the only other person I’ve ever “seen” quote Benj. Disreali … I used his quote “Grief is the agony of an instant, the indulgence of grief the blunder of a life” to end my first novel – and I try to think of that often … anyway, glad I stumbled over here … absolutely fantastic post!!!

  14. Congratulations on being FP’d Rek! 🙂 so much to say, not enough hours in the day. I get the message. 🙂

  15. Agreed…we need to get along in spite of and because OD differences.

  16. Thanks for a very insightful post.

  17. I live in a small town and our local Boy Scout troops are already feeling the decision because their church sponsors are no longer letting them meet there. In the end it’s the kids who lose because adults are close-minded. Scouting (be it girls or boys) is about the kids and what they get out of the meetings, friendships and life skills that they learn.

  18. thank you Rek thats beautiful.

  19. beautifully suitable photograph as well. did you make it?

    • No, it’s a photo I happened to stumble across from the Bay of Alaska. There’s a point where the fresh water from glaciers won’t mix with the much saltier water from the rest of the ocean, so you get this remarkable border. Given the topic, it just seemed appropriate. Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll follow the rest of my work.

      • beautiful post by the way. I apologize for adding to the sudden religious debate over it. It is sad that people can’t just appreciate good art without judging the artist in the process. You have obviously grown to overcome such adversity and are capable of dealing with it on your own terms. Yet, I find it SO difficult to remain quiet when people treat others with damnation. Thank you for the inspiring post. – Steve

  20. Is Scouting in the US Christian and unaccepting of other beliefs? I believe the movement should accept people of any race, belief or gender as long as they are willing to follow the Scout Laws. Roverway (international Rover-Scout camp) 2012 held evening activities especially aimed towards the LGBT Scouts and Guides, which were great even for the ‘straight’. We need to learn to accept everyone for who they are.
    I’m glad other countries don’t have these discriminations otherwise I would never have met a number of friends this summer. YIS

  21. Thanks Rek for speaking out!

    We tried Boy Scouts for my son one year and the prejudices were extreme. Instead, we’ve stayed with 4-H. For those seeking tolerance for their children, there is Spiral Scouts accepting those sexual, religious, and other minorities, and those just wanting to not be segregated from the ‘real’ world. Our church, Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso, sponsors a local Spiral Scouts group.

    My son isn’t gay, but I am determined to raise him in an open, loving environment.

  22. This was a rather thoughtful article. Controversial issues like this don’t often attract positions that don’t involve demonizing opposing the holders of certain viewpoints.

    To my fellow commentors, here is perhaps some food for thought: Instead of telling the Boyscouts what they should or shouldn’t do, regardless of whatever one’s position on the subject may be, we should let the boyscouts sort out their own problems in their own way.

    If we don’t like what they do, we can simply start alternatives to the Boyscouts which we’ve already seen.

    Also, I strongly suggest we be careful throwing the “tolerance” word around. No one is truly tolerant of everything, so I suspect the invoking of the concept for the purpose of a point seems somewhat dishonest. (Do we tolerate murder, theft, rape, ect? No, I’m not comparing this subject to those, just pointing out that tolerance seems to be a shell game at times.)

  23. Wonderful post, I couldn’t agree more. Also, that quote is beautiful and holds so much truth. I’m going to write it down and show it to everyone I know.

  24. “And thus a chasm was bridged.” As much as I want to believe it, I can’t help but doubt. A lesbian (married 17 years to a man then out at 49) who was once a Baptist missionary, I’ve heard so much. Some of the family I’ve had courage to tell, gives show of acceptance, nearly condescending in the nobility of the gesture, even as the rest of the Christian family spews hate without challenge. I get that this is my personal experience, but patterns run deep, and who knows what motivations run through the mind of one like Cathy who’s profited well and stands to lose. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but bridging a chasm rings overly generous from my perspective.

    Your post gave me pause. Thank you.

  25. Great post!

    You should checkout my last blog related to this subject. Im a young, black, conservative, Christian that believes in gay rights… Oh, my! What on Earth did the University of Texas at Austin do wrong? 😉

  26. I think that “diversity”is necessary to live together and help each other. Almighty Allah says : O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).( Quran 49:13)

  27. HIGH FIVE FOR BEING A BLACK CONSERVATIVE!!! I’m not against the LGBT, however I think they need to be careful. They are becoming too aggressive, that can turn off some people like me that are Republican and believe in some gay rights. They need to heavily invest in compromise, because you rather get some of things you want then none at all. Like the Boy Scouts, what was the reason, how many gay people actually want to lead a troop? It’s one thing to be for gay marriage, but you want to force priest to marry you? Thats wrong, no matter how you look at it. All I am saying is, tolerance does not mean acceptance and when it get’s to the point you are infringing on my right to choose the situation I want to be in, that is a problem.

    • You are absolutely right, anbrooks, tolerance does NOT mean acceptance… I much prefer acceptance, and I will respectfully push that end until the day that it is the loving norm for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality… The problem with the Boy Scouts, as I see it, is a cultural one. As long as exclusion is an acceptable norm, members of the population insisting on a platform of superiority are reinforced in that quest. But each time one of these trusted organizations opens up, the population at large finds a little more open space for what is humane and just.

      Your right to choose… I would love for you to consider that gay men and women didn’t choose their sexuality any more than you did, so for you to “choose” your situation at the exclusion of people who didn’t “choose” theirs, seems ripe with arrogance and presumption to me. Perhaps I misunderstand your meanings.

      • First of all number 1 beef with the LGBT is that I can not disagree with one thing with the LGBTQ. Did you ever think I do agree with 90% of the LGBT, No. Now, Even if Gay Marriage is passed it’s wrong to force people into doing something they don’t want to do if it is their religious belief. Period. Rather it be the draft, eating pork, and even marrying two people. That goes against our constitution. Is it right is it wrong? I dunno, but I do know that we will all meet our maker. If the boy scouts don’t want gay leaders fine, is that going to dictate if I’m going to put my boy in the boy scouts. Probably not, because I hate camping and nature, except for gardening and golf, and that is because that is what good Southern Belles do. My child is going to be in the boy scouts regardless.

  28. While I applaud your topic of choice, I can’t help but consider those you know that blaspheme the SEC. Why are we the thorn in so many sides? It’s not like all of our teams do fairly well pretty much all of the time…oh, wait. But I have nothing to speak up for at the moment, since I am a devotee of the SECs bottom of the barrell, the school who has fallen from grace repetitively. But I still dare to wear orange.

  29. Pingback: Sexual Politics in the Grand Old Dominion | Token Dissonance

  30. Pingback: Sympathy for the Vanquished | Token Dissonance

  31. Pingback: Rage Against the Correctness | Token Dissonance

Your Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s