Like many sets of twins, Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School seniors Liam and August Easton-Calabria are best friends who do everything together. They both row, play music and they’re both members of Boy Scout Troop 100.
“Since we were 11,” August said. “So we’ve been in it a long time, seven years. It’s been really fun.”
But since the brothers turned 18, one difference is setting them a part: Liam is gay.
“I came out when I was 16 to my high school,” said Liam. “I’d come out to my family earlier than that.”
Liam says he’s never felt any kind of discrimination, even from his Boy Scout troop.
“It wasn’t a huge topic of discussion in the Boy Scouts. It wasn’t an issue at all. Everyone was very mature about it and things went on like normal which was really a blessing.”
But as far as the national organization is concerned…
“Anyone who turns 18 in Boy Scouts is no longer youth. So they have to reapply to be a troop leader or a camp counselor. But if you’re gay, and they know that you’re gay, they will not allow you to be reinstated as an adult in the organization. So when I turned 18 I became blacklisted, basically.”
The brothers recently became Eagle Scouts, a rank they’ve worked toward for seven years, that’s very important to them. They love the Boy Scouts, so Liam can’t understand why the Boy Scouts no longer loves him.
“One day you’re 17, 364 days, and then at 365 you’re suddenly just wrong and done and no one wants you.”
His brother August is just as confused.
“We’re basically the same person. Okay, we’re not. But Liam is so much like me. We’re just so close. So to have me be able to go on, for no reason, and him have be kicked out is very angering. Liam is a very moral person. I look up to him for moral guidance so I just don’t see how he could be kicked out one day.”
What do their parents think?
“They’re very angry, just like us. Our dad grew up with us in the Boy Scouts and we’ve had a very special experience with him. He went on all of our campouts, basically, with us and we bonded with him. So for Liam not to be able to do that with his kids, when he has kids in the future, is really, really sad.”
Liam and August are in the Boy Scout’s Venturing program, that goes through age 21, so Liam can continue to participate as a youth for three more years. But will August go on without his brother, acting as a camp counselor or troop leader when Liam can’t?
“I don’t really know right now,” August sighed. “I’m banking on the hope that we get this changed sooner rather than later. But I do believe that change from within is the best form of change. It’s better than just deserting the organization and not having any voice in it anymore.”
And Liam wants his voice heard, to help gay Boy Scouts across the country, especially those in less accepting and liberal parts of the country.
“I’m jumping on any opportunity to help this because it’s really frustrating to see people like Geoff McGrath, a much older man. I just really wanting t be fighting this battle now, not when I’m his age. I look up to him a lot because he’s doing such a good job and really taking this on. But I hope we finish this long before I’m his age.”