James Estrin/The New York Times
The color guard leading the annual Gay Pride March down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday carried flags of sky blue, navy blue, red-white-and-blue and rainbow. But, for these marchers, the colors that mattered most were the ones they wore.
Khaki shirts, olive pants and rainbow neckerchiefs: the Boy Scout uniform, pride-style — a uniform that had never been seen on a group of marchers in New York City’s pride parade before.
They had come to mark progress — the Boy Scouts of America’s breakthrough vote last year to end a decades-old policy of prohibiting openly gay youths from being scouts — and to call for more. However, the organization, a touchstone of traditional America, still bars openly gay adults from participating as troop leaders or volunteers. Ending that ban has become a signature cause for the gay-rights movement…
The marchers’ uniforms were a provocative statement. Boy Scout officials have said that scouts are forbidden to wear their uniforms in events that support social or political positions, including gay pride events, and have disciplined scouts and scoutmasters in other states for doing so. But the New York area council has adopted a nondiscrimination policy that leaders of the parade group, called Scouts for Equality, said they believed would protect them.
A spokesman for the national organization declined to comment on the group of marchers, which included parents and straight supporters of the gay rights movement as well as gay and straight scouts and leaders…
The scouts did not take their “marching” lightly. No meandering on the asphalt for them, no dancing and high-fiving the spectators. As they stepped off to frenzied cheers from the crowd, lifting their flags, Peter Brownstein conducted their progress in low, determined tones, as if he were directing a military procession: “Left, right, left right left right.”
As the group passed the Stonewall Inn, the West Village bar known as the birthplace of the gay-rights movement, he and the other marchers paused and gave the Scout salute.
Mr. Brownstein, a Boy Scout leader from Utah, was forced to leave his troop after marching in the Salt Lake City pride event last year. That did not deter him in the least from coming to New York’s celebration.
Power to the People still means all the people, folks. Cheers to the scouts who marched for progress.