July 20, 2012
Editor’s note: Matt Comer is an LGBT activist and the editor of QNotes, a Charlotte-based LGBT community newspaper. He is also the contributing author of “Youth in Crisis: What Everyone Should Know About Growing Up Gay.” Comer has bee a Boy Scout since elementary school and was dismissed from Scouting in December 2000 at the age of 14 for being openly gay. I am a Boy Scout. I am also gay. Leaders with the Boy Scouts of America likely do not appreciate me calling myself a Scout. After all, they dismissed me from their program 12 years ago. In my heart, however, it’s once a Scout, always a Scout, no matter what the Boy Scouts of America’s policy committee said this week. I came out in middle school, telling my friends and family that I am gay. The following year, I was a 14-year-old freshman in high school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I saw and experienced bullying and harassment in the halls, on school buses and in classrooms. I knew I had to do something to stop it. So, I created a gay-straight alliance, a student club where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight ally students could come together to discuss their experiences and work on projects to make our school a safer place for all students.