Hero of the Week Award: June 22, Naka Nathaniel (and friends)

22 Jun

Hero of the Week

The Boy Scouts of America got a bit of attention at their annual meeting last month, leading to more bad press for their ridiculous anti-gay policies. This week, journalist Naka Nathaniel, an Eagle Scout, renounced his rank and repudiated the Scouts in an interview with MSNBC. His powerful words say it all.

When I earned my Eagle Scout rank 20 years ago, I was proud of my accomplishment. When my little brother earned his Eagle 13 years later, I traveled halfway round the world to attend his court of honor. I was proud of him and my family. My parents had raised two Eagle Scouts. Today, I’m ashamed to be an Eagle Scout.

I don’t want my son to participate in Scouting…The antigay policies of the Boy Scouts of America have forced me to turn my back on an organization that, along with my parents, I credit for helping me be a good son, a good husband, a good employee, and a good citizen.

Well put! For those who missed it, the wonderful Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two lesbian mothers, delivered over 275,000 signatures demanding a change in policy to the Scouts’ annual meeting. Another former scout, actor and activist George Takei, is hosting Jennifer Tyrrell, the Ohio lesbian who was banned from her son’s scout troop, at NYC Pride. Let’s hope more scouts will follow the charge for bravery in Scout Law and take action to pressure this organization to live up to some of its other standards, like kindness, courtesy, and helpfulness.

Honorable mention this week goes to General Mills. The Minneapolis-based food giant has “joined the culture war” and made a strong stand for equality. Earlier this month, a General Mills executive testified before Congress about the need for inclusive non-discrimination legislation. This week they company issued a strong statement opposing the Minnesota ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriages. Hooray — now eating Cheerios and Häagen-Dazs is a stand for civil rights!

12 Responses to “Hero of the Week Award: June 22, Naka Nathaniel (and friends)”

  1. Didion June 22, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    Oh, such good news! and in a week when I was starting to despair, starting to think I needed to go on a no-news diet for a while to clear my head!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 22, 2012 at 8:15 am #

      I feel the same way many a day. Bravo to Naka for such courage in speaking truth to power!

  2. Christine Noble June 22, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    It is too bad, because the Scouts *could be* such a positive influence. I have a friend who is a pastor in, I think the term is, an affirmation church. He is a great LGBTQ ally and I know he struggles as an Eagle Scout (he is still active in the organization) with their policies. He doesn’t want to abandon the great young men who are part of Scouting, but on the other hand the way the Scouts treats his LGBTQ friends hurts him deeply. So much hurt all around, and over what? Tradition? Tradition is worthless if we do not examine it and test its worth. Some of them, obviously this one, have to go to the wayside.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 22, 2012 at 8:23 am #

      I am sorry for your pastor friend–it must be a great internal struggle to try and navigate such hypocrisy within the Boy Scouts. When I contrast the Girl Scouts to the Boy Scouts, I have to say I’m exceedingly impressed with the Girl Scouts!

      • Christine Noble June 22, 2012 at 8:51 am #

        Me too! I wish I could have worn that green jumper when I was 11! Still, a girl in my position can now, which is awesome!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 22, 2012 at 8:54 am #

        Christine, you always show such courage and devotion to civil rights.

      • Christine Noble June 22, 2012 at 8:56 am #

        I suppose there is a sort of courage, though how much bravery does it take to say “I refuse to be kicked or made to feel less anymore?”
        I appreciate the sentiment though. And I am devoted to civil rights, for everyone. When no one is denied a home b/c their gender expression, when no one is told they cannot choose their family, when no more young men are gunned down b/c of the color of their skin, then maybe I will rest.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 22, 2012 at 9:01 am #

        “We who believe in Freedom cannot rest until it comes.” Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

  3. Labyrinth-Living June 22, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    I am eating my Cheerios!

  4. Naka Nathaniel (@nakanathaniel) June 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    Michael, Thanks for the kind comments. They are much appreciated. Best, Naka

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      Thank you for having such integrity, courage, and compassion. Thank you also for being such a tremendous ally! You help to prove that our heterosexual brothers and sisters do support us!

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