Dear Boy Scouts of America. Sincerely, Humanity.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/22/us/boy-scouts-president-calls-for-end-to-ban-on-gay-leaders.html?_r=0

I’ll go along with Scouts for Equality. This is a step. A small one, but a step.

Well, more like a toe. One toe forward.

Current BSA policy states that they don’t “grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.” And that adult applicants “must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise, and the Scout Law.” (http://www.scouting.org/MembershipStandards/KnowTheFacts/FAQs.aspx)

The first could imply a couple of things. One could be that because there’s an “or” in there, the two items are mutually exclusive. Meaning they don’t always assume homosexuals engage in distracting behavior. Which is very true, because we don’t. But even if that’s what they meant by “or”, then it really doesn’t give a reasoning why homosexuals can’t be in BSA. If it IS the case, that’s quite biased, because any distracting behavior they’d start would be also a possibility from heterosexuals. And believe me, I get that there are plenty of religious sects that believe homosexuality is a sin, but there are also plenty that don’t, and those that don’t turn us away from their membership. Acceptance seems to be the underlying tone of most holy books, stronger than the need to discriminate or turn anyone away.

Now, in BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principle, they don’t define exactly what they mean by “religion” or “god.” So effectively, atheists can be members because chaos and coincidence are their universe’s ruling forces. Their religion doesn’t require habitual practices, nor prayers, nor observances and/or ceremonies. But that is something they believe, and that fits BSA’s bill. Be they atheists or hard core Mormons, they’re welcomed, which means anyone of a religion that promotes homosexuality as good and a natural part of life doesn’t go against adult requirements. Moreover, there are even provisions to ensure Boy Scouts should never be forced to conform to a religion or the practices of others. The same goes for the Oath and Law, for there’s nothing explicitly saying a homosexual can’t perform all of the duties and assume all of the traits that they swear to, for good reason, because being homosexual alone has no pull on how good or evil of a human you are.

And before some of you argue, no, allowing homosexual leaders isn’t forcing religious beliefs on others. We’re not asking you to get with the times and see that diversity is the spice of life, that living with your fellow man is better than pushing them away, that you should use the reasoning that your god gave you and recognize that something devoted, pure, and consensual is good. We’re asking you to stop discrimination, which is what this BS policy implies.

Oops, I meant BSA policy. Honestly.

Back to the article and Gates’ words. Some of his reasoning saddens me.

“we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.” Back the popcorn truck up. What? Perhaps I was misled all these years in thinking that scouting organizations were cultivating future world leaders. IE those that lead by example. IE those who change the world. Yes, nondiscrimination is how we wish the world to be. Right? Am I alone in that hope? He also played the angle of lawsuits and Supreme Court decisions, that BSA could get in serious legal doodoo if they continued on this path. And then he pointed out the hundreds of thousands of members in troops sponsored by religious establishments. Why point out numbers of membership if you’re not trying to sway voters in regards to losing that membership? Better yet, I refer to my earlier statement: sexual orientation has no effect on the type of leader you can be. I actually put more faith in those of alternate orientations, because of the fights they’ve endured with grace, patience, and perseverance.

In the same breath, though, I ultimately stand behind Mr. Gates. CIA Director. Secretary of Defense. That’s right, an Eagle Scout. An Eagle Scout was in charge of two of the largest, most intricate and dedicated pieces of our government, seeking to uphold our freedoms and preserve it for future generations. That’s some tough stuff right there, if I were only to use small words. If Gates can be part of the impetus behind the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discrimination, then I can support this guy. And hope that the world as I wish it to be will soon be the world as it is.

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The glee Era

Warning: obligatory spoiler alert. I couldn’t tell you which seasons at this point, so just proceed with caution.

As many know, the world grew a little darker on March 20th, exactly 10 days after my 31st birthday. The final episode of glee, “Dreams Come True,” aired on FOX, reaching just over 2.5 million viewers. It felt too hokey, honestly. I like happy endings, but at some point, it just gets thrown in your face and becomes unrealistic. A change as drastic as changing a high school to an all arts school takes more than a whim decision–YEARS of planning. But as some of my friends will propose, it was a stupendous example of how the writing in the most recent seasons has gone downhill.

But let’s be real. FOX cancelled also Firefly, with STUPENDOUS writing, after only a season. Way to frickin’ go.

glee seems completely out of the realm of shows that I’d follow. I can tell you that for certain. My scouts and athletes were obsessed over it, added some dramatics and typical teenager lingo that made me doubt it was “the best show ever.” When two of my best friends Amanda and Hannah recommended it, however, the skepticism lifted a little. I expected it to be a TV series version of the devastating “High School Musical” yet was pleasantly surprised. My subscription to stereotypes came back to bite me once again.

Of course, there were the eat or be eaten undertones, the social pyramid, the bullying, the typical sitcom form of problem solving. The show illustrated the personal connection people should have with music, how it opens us, heals, gives our hurt lyrics and beauty. No it’s not realistic to think they actually sang and danced in front of teachers and public parks and the streets of New York. It’s the feeling that called to the audience. It’s the songs that go through our heads when we encounter those things on a daily basis. It’s teaching music to a generation who’s maybe not familiar with disco, or the Beatles, or even the 80s, and the messages behind those eras.

And unlike the shows I watched growing up, there were no laugh tracks or live audiences to imply how a situation should make you feel. It was open to interpretation. Most importantly, glee had alternate sexualities, and actors who played the roles honestly instead of making fun of our lifestyle. The message from Kurt’s dad Burt in “Sexy” was the best explanation of the feelings involved with sex I’ve ever heard, either from an actor or in real life. I was still in the closet then–it was almost like returning to the childhood I should’ve had. They did a fantastic job of portraying a bully in Santana. She’d rip someone else down almost every scene of hers, as easily as breathing, one original insult after another, and they didn’t let us know what exactly was going on for a season or two, why she acted out. The core reason wasn’t revealed, I should say–doing it to stay “top dog” was the most obvious answer, while accepting herself as gay was her ongoing battle all along. Finn’s insightful attack in “The Mashup” laid it out on the table, as did her talk with her abuelita in the following “I Kissed a Girl.” I only dream about someday writing a character development as subtle and as powerful as hers.

There’s no denying that Brittany was my favorite character, though–yet another shocker, and stereotype broken. She wasn’t your typical ditz, just a huge blonde ball of random. With commentary including, “Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?” and “I took all my antibiotics at the same time, and now I can’t remember how to leave [the room].” Some of her most potent humor was actually improv from Ms. Heather Morris. Brilliance. Her story developed into being a genius that simply had different thought patterns, and it’s not a stretch to think that’s how Einstein must’ve appeared to his colleagues and classmates. Einstein wasn’t a cheerleader, of course, but the main concept is there. The whole situation made me really think about how I have treated former classmates like that.

When these two characters got together, though, I don’t think I could’ve been happier. Brittany was way too innocent for Santana to hurt like she did others (ok, she did in a couple instances–they are best friends, after all, and that sometimes happens). And Santana had other sides that only Britt saw. Their ups and downs affected me, because their survival as a couple, like Frodo wanting to save Gollum, would mean I had a chance at making it too. Britt helped solidify some of my views on the debate of religion vs. homosexuality with her confrontation of Tana’s abuelita, before their wedding ceremony. Fiction writers may only tell us lies, but there’s no doubt glee’s lies revealed unalterable truths to me, which will stay with me until I die.

So, glee, your legacy has been maintained. You have altered a generation, mostly for the better, I feel, and revived generations of music that may have otherwise been lost. There aren’t sufficient words to account for everything I have become since I first laid eyes on you, for all the lessons I’ve learned and ignored, for all the cliques and segments of our society I now understand with a kinder vantage point. Yet, if there’s anything I do know, the best place to start is the manners we should’ve been taught to do since we were little. I say it not only to convey my feelings, but also in hopes that your absence is only temporary, that we will see you again someday:

Thank you, glee, and good night.