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“I Was Gay”: Vietnam Veteran’s Obituary Goes Viral After He Comes Out, Revealing Lifelong Secret
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“I Was Gay”: Vietnam Veteran’s Obituary Goes Viral After He Comes Out, Revealing Lifelong Secret

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A New York veteran shut his eyes forever, knowing that his biggest secret was finally told to the world.

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan of Albany passed away at the age of 85. But before he succumbed to cancer, he penned a message for his loved ones and finally told them, “I was Gay all my life.”

The decorated Army veteran was a lifelong resident of Rensselaer and earned a number of prestigious medals throughout his military career.

He was a brother to his five siblings, Rosemary, Cornelius, Joan, Bernadette, and Joseph Ryan, and he was a beloved uncle to several nieces and nephews.

One secret that the brave soldier kept to himself all his life was his sexuality. He met the “love of his life,” Paul Cavagnaro, at some point and enjoyed a 25-year-long relationship with him. However, he kept his romantic life under wraps for decades.

“He was a private person,” his 68-year-old nephew, also named Joseph Ryan, told the New York Post.

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan of Albany told the world the one secret he kept all his life in his obituary

Image credits: Hans Funeral Home

Determined not to take the secret to his grave, Col. Ryan crafted a message for his obituary to finally come out to the world as gay and tell the world about the man he would be buried next to.

“I must tell you one more thing. I was Gay all my life: thru grade school, thru High School, thru College, thru Life,” read the decorated colonel’s message in his obituary.

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He went on to talk about Paul and how he died in 1994 due to a medical procedure gone wrong. The dedicated public servant also noted that he would be laid to rest beside him.

“I was in a loving and caring relationship with Paul Cavagnaro of North Greenbush. He was the love of my life. We had 25 great years together,” he said. “Paul died in 1994 from a medical Procedure gone wrong. I’ll be buried next to Paul.”

In his parting message to his loved ones, the Albany native said he didn’t have the courage to reveal his sexuality in the past because he was afraid of being treated the way others like him were treated.

“I’m sorry for not having the courage to come out as Gay. I was afraid of being ostracized: by Family, Friends, and Co-Workers,” he said. “Seeing how people like me were treated, I just could not do it.”

He concluded his final message to the world by saying: “Now that my secret is known, I’ll forever Rest in Peace.”

“I was Gay all my life: thru grade school, thru High School, thru College, thru Life,” the brave soldier said in his parting message to the world

Image credits: Pexels/Mohammad reza Fathian

Over the course of his 85 years of life, the veteran served with the Army’s 10th Brigade. He was also a retired fireman in Rensselaer and one of the founders and owners of the WHRL-FM radio station in Albany. His repertoire also included being a chef at the East Greenbush American Legion Post #1231, according to his obituary.

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Col. Ryan was diagnosed with intestinal cancer, which he may have contracted due to exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, according to the New York Post.

It was also reported that he donated his body to the Anatomical Gift Program at Albany Medical College, which would allow med students to study using his body. Eventually, his body will be cremated and buried beside Paul’s grave.

Nephew Joseph Ryan said the family knew about his relationship with Paul even though he did not “come right out” and talk about it.

“They would go on vacation. Once he did retire, he would take a month off, and they would just put down where they wanted to go, any place in the world,” he told the outlet.

“So, we kind of knew, but he wasn’t one that would come right out and say anything … Our family isn’t one that tries to say anything about people,” he continued.

Joseph Ryan was asked whether his uncle’s parting message to the world came as a shock to the family, to which he replied saying it was a long time coming.

“He was quiet, but he was bold. It’s been inside him all this time,” he said.

As the family already feels the loss of the “cheerful” brother and uncle, Joseph Ryan described him as someone who “always showed up at family events, and he always brought trays of food so everybody was fed well.”

“He always sent his sisters and family flowers and stuff for birthdays, holidays. He never forgot anybody’s birthday,” he added.

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The decorated army veteran will be buried next to Paul Cavagnaro, the man he called “the love of [his] life”

Image credits: Pexels/Jenna Hamra

The bereaved nephew also said the family sees the significance in his uncle’s coming out during Pride Month, a time for celebrating the LGBTQ+ community’s history, achievements, and ongoing fight for equality and acceptance. Pride Month is celebrated in June each year.

A number of comments poured in after Col. Ryan’s obituary was posted.

“Thank you for your service Sir. I´m active duty serving in Japan at this time. Tomorrow, I will be hosting a Pride observation at our command and I´m elated to tell your story. We are fortunate enough now to be part of a military that lets us serve our country in full authenticity. We serve proudly in your honor. Thank you for all you have done,” said one person.

“It brings me peace to know that you and Paul are together again. May eternity together be beautiful,” one said, while another wrote, “Rest in pride. How wonderful to have a great love that you so fondly remember 30 years after his death. I wish you could have lived openly in life.”

Another said, “Thank you for your service, and I´m sorry that the world was not always a nice place for us. I hope you and Paul Rest In Peace together, and are able to watch the world change.”

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Netizens called Col. Ryan a “hero in life and death” after reading his obituary

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Binitha Jacob

Binitha Jacob

Writer, BoredPanda staff

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Working as a writer for Bored Panda offers an added layer of excitement. By afternoon, I'm fully immersed in the whirlwind of celebrity drama, and by evening, I'm navigating through the bustling universe of likes, shares, and clicks. This role not only allows me to delve into the fascinating world of pop culture but also lets me do what I love: weave words together and tell other people's captivating stories to the world

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Binitha Jacob

Binitha Jacob

Writer, BoredPanda staff

Working as a writer for Bored Panda offers an added layer of excitement. By afternoon, I'm fully immersed in the whirlwind of celebrity drama, and by evening, I'm navigating through the bustling universe of likes, shares, and clicks. This role not only allows me to delve into the fascinating world of pop culture but also lets me do what I love: weave words together and tell other people's captivating stories to the world

Ugnė Lazauskaitė

Ugnė Lazauskaitė

Author, BoredPanda staff

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I am employed as a Visual Editor in the news team. I make sure you have the best pictures near the most interesting text. In general all day I am looking at all you favourite celebrities facies and I am geting payed for it!

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Ugnė Lazauskaitė

Ugnė Lazauskaitė

Author, BoredPanda staff

I am employed as a Visual Editor in the news team. I make sure you have the best pictures near the most interesting text. In general all day I am looking at all you favourite celebrities facies and I am geting payed for it!

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varwenea avatar
varwenea
Community Member
1 month ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Rest in Pride. Peace to him always. Thank you for your service.

rdennis avatar
R Dennis
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

To borrow someone else's words: It's a shame that he loved a country that didn't love him back...

donab79842 avatar
Jess Smith
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

He sounds like a lovely man, and I'm glad he could come out, even after death.

Load More Comments
varwenea avatar
varwenea
Community Member
1 month ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Rest in Pride. Peace to him always. Thank you for your service.

rdennis avatar
R Dennis
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

To borrow someone else's words: It's a shame that he loved a country that didn't love him back...

donab79842 avatar
Jess Smith
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

He sounds like a lovely man, and I'm glad he could come out, even after death.

Load More Comments
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