National Jamboree 2017 – Day 3 Reflections
Reflections about SFE @ Jamboree, 7/21/2017
Day 3 of 10 – Björn Seelbach
Again a busy day, we are getting used to answering questions on United Church of Christ (UCC), Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and Scouts for Equality (SFE) at our booth. As the German team member, I have entered a different world when it comes to addressing what it is like to be LGBT and a Scout at a Scout event.
While at recent World events like the World Scout Moot 2013 in Canada and World Scout Jamboree 2015 in Japan I ran so-called Rainbow Cafes where everyone was welcome, information on LGBTTIQ and more was offered along with coffee, tea, cakes, snacks, dancing, movies, happiness and pride under the traditional rainbow flag. This was not the plan this time in spite of the official lift of the BSA ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
Nevertheless amazing support was shown to us from a lot of young people and leaders who had heard about Scouts for Equality and liked their mission. Some were asking me about the ‘Inclusive Scouting Award’; when I told a very young Scout that it is a big thing to stand up for LGBT and other people’s rights in Scouting and to keep in mind that the badge was not official, he looked at me and said very smart and clear: “I’ll wear it with pride!”
Nolan who came in the morning after passing by some other booths in the Faith & Beliefs tent, listened to my spiel about UCC, UUA, SFE and working for a more inclusive and diverse BSA and spontaneously said: “This is the first time that I am listening to something here that does not make me puke.” He obviously liked us best, but I encouraged him to keep up the spirit and go to more of the faiths present. Three hours later I met him again, still walking from booth to booth and commenting: “I am learning a lot, it’s really amazing.”
Most touching was, like it happened at world events many times before, when a 16 year old boy, let’s call him Ethan, walked up to me and said: “I am happy to be here, I am gay.” He seemed a very smart and strong boy. But soon he showed his fragile and lonely side.
He was aware his voice was a little higher than the other boys’. Being afraid to be isolated, not wanted in their tent or bullied he was trying to hide his homosexuality from his troop mates. When talking about his boyfriend he would call him a ‘friend’ instead, while others would happily mention their ‘girlfriends’. Hearing that things are difficult at the Jamboree I asked how it was in his home troop. Surprisingly he revealed that the situation was the same at home. I felt very sad and hope Ethan is coming back to our tent to talk. I would like to offer to talk to his Scoutmaster how the situation could be changed – at first without mentioning who had spoken to me, of course. Let’s see.
“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” ~ James Baldwin