A few pages later, a 6-year-old Pascal, T-shirt tucked into his jeans, is shaking hands with a boy who beat him at the Scouts’ annual Pinewood Derby competition.
A couple pages more, a 7-year-old Pascal, donning a full blue Cub Scout uniform and a yellow handkerchief around his neck, smiles wildly.
“For those who are against including gay youth in the Boy Scouts of America, they don’t see a continuum in someone’s life,” Felker said. They don’t see that little boys who think kissing anyone is gross discover only later who they want to be on the receiving end of that gesture. “What is it about that person’s character that suddenly makes them incompatible with the core values of the Boy Scouts? They didn’t change from being cute little Cub Scouts into being morally questionable adults. They’re still good guys. They still really care about the social good.”
When Felker and her husband, Oliver Tessier, who was also a Scout, enrolled their sons in the organization, they had no idea that both — yes, both — would later tell them that they were gay.
Lucien Tessier came out first. He was in 10th grade, and his mother overheard him talking on the phone to a boy in way he wouldn’t to a friend. Pascal came out two years later, in eighth grade, after his father noticed his Facebook status update change from “single” to “in a relationship.”
Each time, Felker said, she was shocked, mostly because she realized she didn’t know her sons as well as she thought. But she didn’t reject them.
“It was complete acceptance,” recalls Lucien, 20. “I told my parents one night and the next day everything was the exact same as it was the day before. That is the ideal reaction.”
Lucien, who is now a student at Northern Virginia Community College and works part time at a law firm, has achieved Eagle Scout status, which can’t be taken away. But he said he worries about his brother, who has completed almost all of the requirements needed to become an Eagle Scout.
Pascal said his decision to take part in the demonstration comes from realizing that many gay Scouts across the country are not as fortunate as he is. He lives in an accepting community and belongs to a Chevy Chase-based troop where many people know about his sexuality but don’t make an issue of it.
“I’ve never had any negative experiences with being gay,” he said. “I’ve never been bullied or had anyone tell me it’s wrong.”
That is, except for the Boy Scouts, whose policy was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2000. Many troops are sponsored by Mormon, Baptist and Catholic churches, which traditionally consider homosexuality a sin.
“Even if I do get banned from the Boy Scouts, I still think it’s worth it,” Tessier said. “I’d rather put myself out there than not.”
Several nights before the demonstration, he and his mother sat in the kitchen after dinner, brainstorming slogans for the signs the students would wave at passing cars. They wrote down one idea after another. On Thursday, in front of the Bethesda Metro station, teenagers in flip-flops and tennis shoes waved white poster boards that read, “Badges 4 Tolerance . . . Scouts Are Kind . . . Love Conquers Hate . . . A Scout Is Equal.”
They would stay there for more than an hour, handing out fliers and cheering when cars honked, before heading their separate ways, aware that only one among them had to worry about what might happen next.