Photography by Danielle Levitt
This trio embodies the contradictory state of the Boy Scouts of America’s gay policy: Knapp (middle) is a former district executive who was kicked out in 1993 when the organization learned he was gay; Bourke (left), who has two kids with his partner of 31 years, was an associate scoutmaster but is now forced to limit his involvement with his son’s troop; and Tessier (right), who came out in 8th grade, can stay active only until he turns 18.
“It was a bittersweet victory,” Tessier says of the historic vote last May to allow gay teenagers, but not adult leaders, to serve in the movement. “I want them to feel that happiness.”
But for Knapp, who first joined the Scouts in 1938 at the age of 12, there has been an unexpected silver lining to the humiliation he underwent during his expulsion. “I’ve done all sorts of wonderful things that never would have happened if I had not been kicked out,” he says. “I just celebrated my 87th birthday at a Unitarian camp with 80 gay men holding hands in a circle, singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me — how many gay men have that happen to them?”
Photographed at Fast Ashley’s Studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., on September 5, 2013