Veteran, 85, Comes Out In His Own Obituary

A military veteran from upstate New York revealed in his own obituary that he was gay after keeping his sexuality under wraps his whole life.

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan, who died at age 85 on June 1, wrote that he “just could not” come out as gay when he was alive after “seeing how people like me were treated.”

“I was afraid of being ostracized,” he said.

“Now that my secret is known, I’ll forever Rest in Peace,” Ryan concluded the obituary published in the Albany Times-Union on June 8.

The obituary was penned by Ryan’s niece, Linda Sargent.

It listed accomplishments from Ryan’s decorated military career, when being gay could mean a dishonorable discharge, his later service as a firefighter, his work with the American Legion and his founding and co-owning of local radio station WHRL-FM.

It also included the message that Ryan wrote before he died.

The note read in full:

I must tell you one more thing. I was Gay all my life: thru grade school, thru High School, thru College, thru Life. 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. Paul died in 1994 from a medical Procedure gone wrong. I’ll be buried next to Paul. 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. 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.

Ryan’s obituary has since gone viral on social media, with multiple commenters expressing their sadness that he couldn’t be his true self when he was alive.

Sargent told “Good Morning America” that the worldwide attention his message has received was a “salute” for her uncle who had potentially opened “doors for other people.”

She added, “Hopefully, he’s at peace.”