Last July, a 22-year-old Eagle Scout named Tim Griffin was fired from his position on the staff at Camp Winton, where he’d worked for eight years, because he was gay. Officials from the Boy Scouts of America claimed it was because of his appearance and mannerisms, but other staff at the camp confirmed it was because of his sexual orientation. That, along with numerous other manifestations of the BSA’s anti-gay policy this year, prompted Derek Nance to come out as well.
Nance is also an Eagle Scout who has worked as a program director at Mataguay Scout Ranch in Southern California for 10 years. In a video posted on YouTube on Thursday, he explains that he couldn’t bear to keep his secret from his camp family any longer:
NANCE: I am gay… I live with camp friends, I attend school with camp friends, and I go out drinking at night with camp friends, and yet I’ve had to keep part of my life secret from them. The little things are the most frustrating. For instance, I can’t giggle when a boy texts me while I’m at camp. I can’t comment on how cute an actor looked in a movie we went and saw that weekend. And I can’t share with them the emotional roller coaster everyone feels while they fall in and out of love. I’m open to all my friends and family in “real life,” but to the people I truly feel closest to, I’ve had to remain distant.
Which is why I’ve chosen this moment to open up to them, and to every other staff member of the Boy Scouts of America who is in the same position I am in. The only way we will change the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policies is if those of us who are on the front lines representing them to thousands of scouts every single summer start engaging in some open dialogue on this issue. Lawsuits from the ACLU or “confidential reviews” by the Boy Scouts are not going to change policies. The first step to coming to an agreement on this issue is to drop the old pretenses and stereotypes and to start actually talking.
Watch Nance’s courageous video:
Nance joins a growing coalition standing up against the antiquated policy. Every instance in which the Boy Scouts maintains that it is better off without gay scouts and leaders further demonstrates how pointless the discrimination truly is.