The Third Scout

Image by Jerilyn Hassell Pool

Image by Jerilyn Hassell Pool

Alan B. is a long-time friend of the blog. His experience resonated with many of us.

In the wake of the recent changes to LDS Church policy regarding LGBT people and their children, I made a donation to the Utah Pride Center as a way of showing love and support. A childhood friend, who is gay (as I learned a few years ago), expressed appreciation. To explain why I donated, I recounted an experience I’d had with him.

Once there were three Boy Scouts. One day at Scout Camp, two of the Scouts played a trick on the other, as Scouts do. While one of the Scouts was in his tent, the other two detached the tent poles from the tent. The tent collapsed and the two pranksters laughed as the other Scout flailed about, struggling to find a way out. It was harmless fun.

But something changed. One of the Scouts outside the tent took a tent pole and began to beat the Scout inside. The Third Scout sensed things had
gone too far, but stood quietly by, waiting for the blows to stop. It didn’t last long.

The wounded Scout eventually located the tent door and emerged. Enraged and in tears, he shouted “I have my rights!”

The Scout with the tent pole responded, “Yeah, your right to be a faggot” and walked away.

And the third Scout, having witnessed cruelty and injustice, did nothing. He knew it was wrong, but didn’t want to become a target himself. And what difference would it make? The damage had been done. So he walked away.

I was the third Scout.

And you, my friend, were the Scout in the tent. You may not remember this incident, but I do. It’s a vivid memory and I still feel the guilt and shame of helping to instigate the incident and doing nothing as it escalated.

I don’t want to be the Third Scout anymore.


Here is his response:

“I’m speechless, Alan. I just closed my office door, because I’m sobbing and in tears. I remember that incident like it was yesterday and didn’t know or think that anyone else noticed or cared (I had hoped no one else noticed the incident). I have long since forgiven, but at 42 years old, still feel the hurt when my mind wanders back to that time. Thank you. You have no idea how your words you just shared with me have warmed my soul.

If you were here, I’d give you the biggest hug you’ve ever had in your life!

Phew! All of a sudden, so many memories of my teenage years are flooding my mind. Memories I had tried to forget. For instance, the perpetual thought of wanting taking my own life from as early as twelve years old. I thought I was broken and unlovable and tried to overcome that feeling by joining the overachievers club to make up for how overwhelmingly useless I felt inside. We didn’t talk about these things in those days – at least, not in Smallville. This is just one reason I am committed to making a difference in the lives of young people – especially, young LGBT people.”


  1. When I first started reading I had an involuntary eye roll (“oh here we go again, more bleeding hearts…”), but then the response part really touched me and made me feel guilty for my initial attitude. Thanks for making me feel, sissies.

  2. I am moved by your experience, but also a bit troubled by your seeming equation of the new Church policy with the cruelty and injustice displayed by the Scout with the tent pole…? My sincere apologies if that was not your intent – but in the context of your opening sentence, it certainly comes across that way.

  3. A Happy Hubby says:

    Patrick, The analogy that I draw from this is if I feel this policy is wrong and hurtful in my heart even after praying and asking for a conformation, what must I do so that I can stand in front of my savior one day with a clear conscience? That is where I am at now and I am not resigning or anything, but I don’t feel I can just “support the brethren” when they have made such a huge mistake.

  4. A Happy Hubby says:

    I keep coming back to that quote, “Catholics believe the Pope is infallible, but Catholics don’t believe it. Mormon’s believe their prophet is fallible, but they don’t believe it.” There are Mormons that will argue that this isn’t true, but can’t give an answer when asked, “OK, so when was the last mistake made?” I want to clearly state – the policy change.

  5. HH,
    ‘Conformation’ is a revealing word.

  6. A Happy Hubby says:

    Read into that word that I am bad at spelling. “confirmation” was the intended word.

  7. I was usually the kid in the tent.

  8. Frank W. Hays says:

    Somehow as the boy in the tent most of my life. As a Gay Latter-day Saint. I hope this article reaches the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. I think there heart was trying to do the right thing for the Church, but I think the Savior would correct them just as he did his disciples.

  9. My question is, did either of the boys doing the hitting grow up to be a bishop or (God help us) a stake president?