Years in Girl Scouting: 3 years
Roles in Girl Scouting: Camp staff
I am a proud lesbian. I think I’ve always known I wasn’t straight, but when I got to high school, I was like, “...Well, I’m obviously not into guys, so let’s try out girls.”
Molly was my first girlfriend. We played soccer together. She was an upperclassman. We became best friends and eventually both realized, “I don’t think other people do this kind of stuff. We might be gay.” We figured it out from there and started dating. She was my high school sweetheart -- we dated for two and a half years.
My coming out wasn’t formal at all. Coming out to my mom involved her telling me that I was gay. My mom asked me, “Is Molly coming with you today? Isn’t she your girlfriend?” When my friends found out I was dating a girl, they said, “Ok. That’s nothing new to us.” It was pretty nice. Half of my family isn’t ok with me being gay...and we don’t talk.
When my parents got divorced, my mom began a relationship with a very religious man. My mother had grown up not knowing anything other than her straight, white, Christian, conservative background. She then worked for a boss who was a lesbian. This was helpful for me, because by the time I came around, my mom was very comfortable with people not being straight. (Really, people are only uncomfortable with gayness because they don’t understand it.)
When my mom married my stepdad and he tried to make my orientation an issue by saying I “needed help”, my mom said, “No, she’s fine the way she is. If you ever bring it up again, we’re done.” My stepdad is now a pastor at a Methodist Church. He’s made snide offhand comments about federal same-sex marriage equality. I do know that if I ever were to marry a woman, he wouldn’t come to the wedding because of his beliefs.
When I was 18, my cousin took me to my first gay bar: the Stonewall in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was awesome. That’s where I met my girlfriend, G., who brought me into Girl Scouting.
I had just finished my first year of college and I had no idea what I was going to do for the summer. G. convinced me to apply to work at Girl Scout summer camp. After the first week, I knew I wanted to do camp every summer for the rest of my life.
At camp, all children are accepted and no one is left out: the weird kids, the jocks, the geeky anime kids. The kids dress in ridiculous outfits and the counselors are even more ridiculous. At Girl Scout camp, kids learn about diversity, different cultures, and different religions. There is no judgment.
The people that you work with at Girl Scout camp -- gay or straight -- are all there for the same reason: the campers. That common denominator made me more comfortable being out. You get judged for your tan lines, not your sexual orientation.
“Sexuality” is so big. I didn’t realize how big it was until I went to camp. I didn’t know there were so many ways to identify yourself. I had thought there was just “straight or gay.” All I knew about myself before I went to camp was that I was into girls. I was ignorant. I then met so many different types of queer people and it opened up my eyes. I also learned more about the political side of LGBTQ issues -- what’s actually going on in the world. It’s pretty cool that camp afforded that.
I met my current girlfriend, C., at a Girl Scout camp on the other side of the country. I flew to California and met her my first night there. We couldn’t stop talking to each other. When you spend 24 hours a day together, 7 days a week...you get to know someone really well. You’re not getting someone who is dressed up or putting on a facade; you’re getting the “down and dirty, this is really me” version of someone. We’re still together and I plan to continue to be with her for a very long time. I’m going to London to see her this Halloween and again this Christmas, and I hope to be at a university 30 minutes away from her for the spring semester.
The kids really do make camp incredible and Girl Scouts does such a great job empowering girls. Immediately after my first summer at camp, I changed my major from athletic training to education because I wanted to continue to work with kids. If it weren’t for Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am and I wouldn’t be doing what I love. Girl Scout camp has made me a better person. I’m glad I found my place.