Because they are our kids too.

Many, many years ago in the town I was then living and working in, an assistant scoutmaster murdered his two children, apparently as a part of an ongoing bitter dispute with his ex-wife.  He also attempted, at least half-heartedly, to take his own life.  

The point of bringing up this sad, gruesome story is to illustrate that any organization, particularly ones dependent on volunteers, occasionally end up with the really screwy in positions of authority. Boy Scouts of America, this means you.  This guy slipped in.  I’m also quite sure he wasn’t the first scoutmaster ever to commit an uspeakable crime, and I’m aware that other leaders have betrayed the trust that parents, children, and the organization have put in them.

Any organization that serves children has a sacred obligation to keep them safe.  Why the Boy Scout organization seems to think that they are serving this purpose by ejecting a chapter that has chosen to keep an openly gay scoutmaster is completely beyond me.  It further disgusts me that many people seem to think that this policy serves to keep young boys away from sexual predators. Background  checks and a better reporting structure would go a far longer way in achieving that goal.

I read through many, many comments on the news story on Yahoo, and in addition to outright bigotry and a few sensible folks who pointed out that out gay men are fairly unlikely to be closet pedophiles, there were a whole bunch of people, some of them clearly fairly well-meaning, who were just plain confused on the subject.  Where are all these gay people coming from, why are they infiltrating American society, and why would gay men want to be Boy Scout leaders unless they had some hidden agenda?

Estimates of how many gay people there are range roughly from 1% to 10% of the population.  The number I’m personally most comfortable with is 4%-6%.  Even the lowest estimates are a heck of a lot of gay people.  And we’ve always been here.  We just used to be invisible.

It used to be possible for most people to pretend that they didn’t know any gay people.  That they didn’t occupy every segment of society.  We were there, you just couldn’t see us.

I can’t speak for the motivations of individual gay men who wish to be scout leaders, but I doubt a secret gay agenda is part of it.  And I’m pretty sure they’re not recruiting either.  More gay people are born every day.  

If I had to guess why a gay man would would want to mentor children, I would guess that it’s about being a role model.  Or sharing something they enjoyed as a child. Or participating fully in a larger society, and not being shut out because they just happen to be gay.

And probably sometimes being a role model for more than one way of being a man.  Because here’s another secret.  There are gay kids in those Boy Scout troops.  If you have a troop of 20, using the lowest estimate, there’s a one in five chance that there is a kid in that troop who either already knows he’s gay or will grow up to be a gay adult.  If you use the highest estimate, it’s an average of two kids per troop. This isn’t to suggest that straight men can’t be effective role models for gay boys, but I think it is hurtful for there never to be any gay ones.  Especially if the reason that there are no gay ones is that they are marginalized and unwelcome.

 

A New Release!

My second professionally published book, Closer Than Brothers, is due to be released on May 23 from MLR Press.  Words can’t describe how thrilled I am.  In many ways it’s more exciting than the first one was.  One could be a fluke, two starts feeling like a career.

I don’t have a cover or a link yet, but watch this space, because I’ll share those as soon as I have them.  I realize I seem to have nineteen fans, but anyone who’s familiar with my work may be surprised by this one.  It’s much lighter than most of my stuff and has NO RELIGION.  Just about none at all.

Personally I think it’s very sweet.  It’s the story of Drew, who’s a Kinsey one or one and a little bit, and his best friend Jeff, who’s very much in love with him.  There’s not a lot of message in this one, but it is about the families we create and their importance to us.

I also have a story in the works for the Goodread’s M/M groups Love’s Landscapes event.  It’s almost finished, I swear.  It’s a historical, set in the WWII era, and also at least partly about how we construct families and their enduring significance.

How process works, or taking little bits and pieces of this and that and turning it into a story.

Writers are magpies, gathering little shiny things up and hoarding them.  Everyone works differently, and I”m sure most of us have different ways of generating ideas.  Sometimes I’ll work from an idea I’ve had floating around, or from minor characters in something else.  The Price of Everything started that way with Nick’s brother from my Skylark/Unexpected Gifts series, which is only very loosely related.  Add some thoughts I’d had about orientation, conformity, and religion and we’re off.

Sometimes, though, I’m keenly aware that writers are observers.  Closer than Brothers, my next release, stemmed from a trip to a water park and some discussions I’d been following on flexibility and the plausibility of “gay for you” as a trope.  I have a Halloween story under submission that was largely spawned by a holiday themed solitaire game, ongoing construction, and some very pesky squirrels.

An author I follow refers to them as “plot bunnies” and there is something apropos in that.  I can see why they might be the mental equivalent of the dust buffaloes I find under my bed.  You thought it was clean, and suddenly, they’re there.  Eating your shoes, or in this case, demanding to be written.  

So I find myself pondering two teenagers on the boardwalk, obviously absorbed in each other and probably ditching school, a flier for very cheap and just slightly seedy hotel rooms, and some surfers.  We’ll see.  And did I mention that the slightly seedy hotel rooms are over the bar that started the idea for Companion on the Road, along with “The Carroll County Accident” and “Wreck on the Highway” and a couple of old car shows?