Military veteran, former firefighter reveals same-sex relationship in obituary

The man said he did not reveal being gay out of fear of "being ostracized" by friends and family.
Posted at 12:20 PM, Jun 13, 2024

A New York man revealed in his own obituary that he was gay and never came out because of a fear of "being ostracized."

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan, Ret., originally of Rensselaer, New York, wrote in his obituary that he had a relationship with a man named Paul Cavagnaro for 25 years. They remained together until Cavagnaro died in 1994 due to a "medical procedure gone wrong," the obituary said.

"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," Ryan wrote.

Ryan's obituary says he was a retired colonel in the military and firefighter and the commendations listed in his obituary include the National Defense Service Medal and the Defense of Liberty Medal. He revealed that he would be buried next to Cavagnaro at a New York cemetery.

"I'm sorry for not having the courage to come out as Gay," he wrote. "I was afraid of being ostracized: by Family, Friends, and Co-Workers. Seeing how people like me were treated, I just could not do it. Now that my secret is known, I'll forever Rest in Peace."

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His online obituary has gotten numerous comments of posthumous support.

"You have nothing to apologize for. I hope your reunion with your loved one was beautiful," one commenter wrote.

"Thank you for sharing this at your exit. I am sorry our society is as it is and that you were unable to live your life truthfully in the open. Your service and duty to society helped many I am sure. Just a random stranger expressing a few thoughts," another person commented.