Rodger Streitmatter-LGBT-Today Featured Columnist While on a trip to Peru last month, my husband and I found ourselves in a precarious situation.
We were on a train, late at night, when we learned that the station we were supposed to be headed for had been closed because of a mud slide. So we were going to have to get off at the next stop and transfer to a bus, which was scheduled to depart within 10 minutes after our train was supposed to arrive at the station.
Our level of anxiety was heightened by the fact that we didn’t speak Spanish and that all we knew for sure was that the bus we needed to find was the one headed to a town whose name began with either an "H" or a "W" or an "X" and contained about 87 syllables.
As soon as the train stopped, I grabbed my backpack and got off the train. I was moving quickly toward the bus station when I realized that Tom wasn't following me.
So I stopped and waited for him.
As I was becoming increasingly concerned that something horrible had happened to him, he finally appeared. "Where were you?" I asked. "Are you OK?" "I'm fine," he said in a matter-of-fact tone. "I was helping an old lady off the train." I stopped in my tracks and glared at him.
"An old lady?" I repeated, with considerable attitude in my voice. "Tom, you're 68-years-old and you had major surgery two months ago. By every rational standard, you should be getting help, not giving it." He looked a little sheepish and said, "But this old lady, she looked frail." He looked around and pointed to a woman wearing a bright blue track suit. “That’s her there.” "Frail!" I said, perhaps a little loudly (READ: screeched). "I saw that woman at the top of Machu Picchu this afternoon. If she can climb up a pile of rocks for two hours at an altitude of 12,000 feet, I'd hardly call her frail." Tom looked even more sheepish than he did before and said quietly (READ: whimpered), "Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout." I sighed and turned toward the bus station. This time, Tom followed me as we successfully located our bus and went on our way. During the two-hour ride that followed, I had time to think about other instances during our Peruvian holiday that Tom had assumed his Eagle Scout role. Specifically, there'd been more times than I could count when I'd turned around while we'd been on an airplane or a train or a bus and found him helping assorted people either lifting a suitcase into the overhead storage compartment at the beginning of a trip or retrieving a suitcase at the end of a trip. I actually wasn't angry at him for his behavior. We've been together for 30 years and he's been doing the same irritating endearing things from the start. Is Tom being an Eagle Scout for life strengthened by the fact that he's gay? I definitely think so, though I don't have any data to support that conclusion. But I'm absolutely sure that if all the gay Eagle Scouts were to step forward and identify themselves, they’d number in the thousands—probably the tens of thousands. Maybe then they could form a new organization called Boys Who Love Boys Who Love Old Ladies.
I wonder how the leaders of the Boys Scouts of America would respond to that?
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