About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy
GOOD Worldwide Inc. publishing
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Army veteran comes out as gay in his obituary after living his whole life in fear

On his death bed, the veteran wrote a touching note to ensure that his family, friends and co-workers knew that he was gay.

Army veteran comes out as gay in his obituary after living his whole life in fear
Cover Image Source:

Though acceptance of various sexual orientations is growing, some still choose to stay in the closet due to concerns about their profession or family values. Some carry this secret to their graves. Earlier this June, the obituary of New York-based army veteran Col. Edward Thomas Ryan made headlines as he came out as gay after his death. The obituary, published by the Albany Times Union and shared online by, reveals the touching reality of the army officer's secret life.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Alexander Grey
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Alexander Grey

The Vietnam War veteran passed away at 85, and before his death, he had a message to share with his family, friends, and colleagues. As per his wish, his obituary included his heartfelt confession. "I must tell you one more thing. I was Gay all my life: through grade school, through High School, through College, through Life," he wrote. "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 added. Ryan's life behind the closet was not all alone - he indeed had a long-term partner. 

Cover Image Source: Albany Times Union
Cover Image Source:

"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," Ryan mentioned. Despite being in a profession that demands unmatched bravery, the veteran feared the way his gender identity would be frowned upon. "Seeing how people like me were treated, I just could not do it," he explained. "Now that my secret is known, I'll forever Rest in Peace," Ryan ended his obituary.

Turns out, Ryan's relationship with Cavagnaro was not a secret among the family members. Though Ryan was a private person, his family figured out the couple's relationship, as per the New York Post. Ryan's 68-year-old nephew Joseph Ryan told the media channel, "They (Ryan and Cavagnaro) 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." So, this fueled the family's suspicion but Ryan never bore his soul to them until his death. According to the nephew, Ryan was scared about being court-martialed for being openly gay even after retirement. However, towards the end of his life, the veteran regretted not coming out of the closet.

As per the obituary, Ryan donated his body to the Anatomical Gift Program at Albany Medical College. He was lovingly remembered by his 5 siblings and 14 nieces and nephews. Ryan's obituary touched many hearts on the internet. "May you and your loved one rest in peace and love together in what lies beyond the boundaries this world set for both of you," said Barton Smith. "What a sad but beautiful story, you sound like a wonderful person who led a caring, giving and unselfish life. Now you're with your love and free," added Lisa Smith. "Better late than never, I am sorry you had to live with that unfair burden of fear," wrote Kathleen Kensington.

More Stories on Scoop