Sunday, February 1, 2015

DD's STORY

Name: DD
Years in Girl Scouting: 17 years
Location: Pennsylvania

My first few hazy memories of noting my queer identity began when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old. I recall being a quiet, awkward kid in middle and high school, worried that my budding interest in girls was something strange and wrong and that I must be a boy if I were to have feelings for another female. Before I even knew the term, I settled with the fact that I must be transgender or that somehow, someway, my parents changed my sex at birth. I was convinced.



It wasn’t until later in my teen years that I realized that the heteronormativity I was raised with defined strict binary ideals from the start. Of course women could have affections for other women, why had I not realized it sooner? At age eighteen, I started whispering that I was queer to a few friends here and there, but it still took me several years to tell my family, my employers, and to stop trying to be straight.

Having been a Girl Scout for twelve years and now an adult volunteer for almost five years, I see my experiences with Girl Scouts as tremendously important to not only my sense of community and consistency, but of self-growth and transition. The first person I came out to was another Girl Scout while we were camping in New Hampshire. I intimated my preferences and my curiosity, and she didn’t blink an eye. With a knowing head nod and what I considered tremendous maturity for our tender age of sixteen, she said, “Ok, I figured.” Since that day, I’ve quietly informed her of all my lady crushes, and she's shared details about the boys she pined after.
 

In my last few years of high school, I developed a burning longing for another girl in my Girl Scout troop. As teen female friend relationships go, we held hands, played with each other’s hair, sat next to one another at troop meetings, and giggled all night with the rest of the girls until we fell asleep in each other’s basements. It was pure torture. The fellow Girl Scout whom I had originally come out to sympathized with my plight but could do nothing more than watch my angsty, adolescent anguish bubble up in frustration. To this day, I regard this crush as my first love. She doesn’t know and I’ve moved on, but sometimes I still get caught up when I see her.

There was a boy-crazed girl in my troop who ended up coming out as gay at seventeen. We were all dumbfounded, but quickly wised up to the expert acting she had previously fooled us with. I found solace in her feat and came out to her one day during band practice. She, too, didn’t seem startled...and here I thought I was doing a good job hiding who I was.

By the time I started my second semester of college, I found myself pity-dating a boy I couldn't care less about. Pressured by his unwavering advances, I agreed to see him, making it clear that I wanted nothing to do with sex. He pushed a few boundaries, but generally respected my request. Since neither of us had dated anyone prior, we shared each other’s first, sloppy, story-worthy kisses. His wooing techniques were sub-par and my disinterest grew more than I ever thought it could over the course of the year. I tried, unsuccessfully, to break up with him six times.




After this experience, I surprisingly went on to fall in love with three men in quick succession. Interspersed with other relationships and romantic affairs, I casually dated two women with little promise and a few other men.  However, I still find myself looking for something meaningful with a smart and sensitive girl.

Throughout this period of four years, I stood by my slightly confusing orientation and refused to sleep with men (although I try in vain, once or twice). I blossomed as a feminist activist during these college years, took on many exciting opportunities, and grew even closer to my Girl Scout troop as we made it a point to support each other’s academic pursuits and life goals. On holiday breaks, the core seven of us get together at local bars and at our former troop leader’s house.

As time went by, my responsibilities as a Girl Scout adult volunteer increased and I began working with headquarters. In all spaces of my life, I saw few (if any) out and queer women, making me wish for role models to rely on. Regardless, it was at this point that I realized that I can become someone girls can look up to. Having received my Gold Award at eighteen, I earned the title of National Young Woman of Distinction two years later. I started traveling and speaking across the country, hosting workshops and presenting at councils. For a little over a year, I was constantly attending conferences and award ceremonies, yet remained closeted. Even with my accomplishments, I worried that I will not be taken seriously if I were to come out publicly.

Fast-forward to summer 2014: I met a lovely girl who wanted a serious relationship. Though not much of a Girl Scout (perhaps two years as a Brownie), she stole my heart through her laughter and carefree attitude. Never once did she push me to announce my sexuality, but I was inspired by her openness and came out to my mother. Her response was less than appropriate.  My mother asked me why I would choose such a lifestyle, said that I still had time to pursue my past male partners, and couldn't understand why I could do such a thing to her. With little pause, my girlfriend became my rock and reason, and because of her love for me, my mother is much more accepting of our relationship.


My next step was at the National Convention in fall 2014, where I came out to a group of other adult Girl Scout volunteers from my council. They showed little sign of concern or curiosity. For this, I was tremendously grateful. To complete the circle, I knew the last few people I had to tell in-person were in my Girl Scout troop. I knew I would see them all together at our annual Thanksgiving party. The few that already knew that I was out as as teen had already learned of my girlfriend. Those that knew of neither seemed very surprised.  Lubricated with red wine, they asked me a multitude of questions. I happily answered as many as I could, explaining how lucky I felt to have their support. As of the end of 2014, I am officially a ScOUT of the Closet.

Though I face struggles as a queer adult in a world strife with aggression towards minorities, in a country that seems to have little sympathy for women’s health and civil rights, in a state where I can be fired for being out, and in a family too conservative for my tastes, I bask in the glow of acknowledging, confirming, and living a life open and without shame. I acknowledge the queer-identified individuals who have walked and worked before me, forever chipping away at the walls that try to block out the sun and hide our proud faces. I wish only to devote my life to the safety of women and the education of girls. I want to be a queer role model for children and closeted adults alike, living the promise of being a sister to every Girl Scout and making the world a better place.