By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com April 17 2014 2:12 PM ET
A gay Boy Scout has used his Eagle Scout project to help the LGBT community.
As a closeted high school sophomore, Eric Snyder realized that by coming out, he could jeopardize his membership in the Boy Scouts of America, which still had its ban on gay and bisexual youth at the time he was preparing for the final hurdle to the high rank of Eagle Scout: a community service project.
To circumvent this rule, Snyder decided to use this project as an opportunity to serve as "an act of rebellion against the organization's homophobic policies," according to the description that accompanies his YouTube interview from I'm From Driftwood, the LGBTQ Story Archive.
"OK, I'm gonna do something really, really gay,” he recalled thinking at the time. “If they're not gonna allow me to do anything that's queer at all, I'm gonna make it really loud in my project."
Snyder, who lives in upstate New York, sought guidance from his gay math teacher, who had mentored an LGBT club at his high school before it was “dismantled.” His teacher referred him to the Pride Center in Albany, which was in desperate need of repairs. Upon visiting, Snyder was shocked to discover that the youth group convened in “the dingiest little basement … [with] one dingy little light in the center.”
“This is not right,” he remembered thinking at the moment. “They deserve better than this, because they're coming out here. They're working. They're trying to make the world better. So I said, ‘OK, that's gonna be my project.’”
With the help of several friends, Snyder renovated the space, painting the walls and installing a new ceiling, lighting, shelves, and cupboards. The project was approved, and he expects to receive his Eagle Scout honor in several months.
Watch the video interview below.