Monday, June 04, 2012

Same Sex Headstones

My former neighbor's headstone - they were together forty years

A few weeks ago I posted about gay headstones in a cemetery.  As regular readers of this blog know, I am a Find a Grave volunteer.  I take photos of grave headstones in cemeteries and post them to a website called Find a Grave.com.  Occasionally I come across a headstone with two male names (or female) on a single headstone.  Since most of the grave headstones I take photos of are of folks who died back in the dark ages when homosexuals were all in the closet and had to hide their true feelings for one another.  As I came across some of these headstones I often wondered if some of these gay folks tried to do an end run against the ignorance and hate of our shameful past era and try to proclaim their eternal love for one another with a single headstone.  I think so.

However, one of the comments I received stated that perhaps the two male names on the single headstone were of brothers.  Maybe but not the headstone I pictured in my blog.  On that headstone I had done my research (Ancestry.com) and found that the one man was born in Poland and the other man born in the United States.  Still, not for certain they weren't related but probably not.

Now I have proof positive that two gay men are on one headstone.  The picture of the headstone at the top of this blog is of my former neighbor and his partner.  Don and Al were together for forty years.  I knew Al was buried near Princeton, New Jersey, where he grew up and worked most of his life before he moved to our neighborhood here in Delaware about the same time Bill and I moved here (2006).

Don, Al and I reading for a Halloween outing (you didn't think I would wear a dress did you?)


Al died a few months ago.  I requested a photo of his grave through Find a Grave.com.  Another Find a Grave.com volunteer was kind enough to take that photo and send it to me.  I have to say I was surprised when I saw what Don (the surviving partner) did.  Good old Don put it right out there for the world to see.

This gives me encouragement.  I would like to do the same for me and Bill but I know Bill is definitely against it.  Bill is of the old school of homosexuals where if you're gay you stay in the closet and don't dare tell anyone.  He says he sees no reason to "throw it in their face" the fact we're gay. To me, short of having sex in public, acting normally isn't "throwing it in their face."  This difference of opinion has always been a source of contention in our relationship.  I don't think Bill will ever change and I know I certainly won't.  I came out at 21 years old in 1963 and I never went back in the closet since.  At times it hasn't been easy folks, especially those early years but it is the only way I could live.

I have to be me.  I will not and cannot live my life the way others expect or want me to live my life.  It ain't happening.  If that makes some people, including my friends (and former friends), tough.  I would rather not have the friendship if it is to be on those (their) terms.

So it was with great pleasure that I saw that my neighbor Don put this headstone out there for all the world to see.  Bravo Don!

Al and Don out for dinner with their neighbors - yes, Don is giving me The Finger

6 comments:

  1. Very Brave!
    I think that Don is giving Haters the finger with his very Proud Headstone. Good for him!
    m.

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  2. I would bet that in another couple of years, (or so) it will not be out of the ordinary to have gay couples buried together. America's opinion
    on gay marriage has changed, polls indicate. But if Bill wants to stay "in the closet", that is his right and I am sorry it is a source of contention
    in your relationship. You have to let it go and enjoy life while you are both alive instead of thinking about death and the future.
    (I love it when you change the header often. You live in a such beautiful area).

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    Replies
    1. Nadege,

      Bill has always been somewhat ashamed of being gay. I've never felt that way. The only reason I stayed in the closet early in my life was for my own protection, not because I was ashamed of being gay. To be being gay is perfectly normal to me. Bill feels differently about it.
      I agree with you that we should both make the most out of life while we are alive and not concern ourselves too much about the future. However, I would like to choose my headstone while still alive so I could see it. I am pretty sure that after I die there will be no one around to choose a headstone for me and if they did, it wouldn't be one that I liked.

      Thanks for the compliment about me changing my header often. Yes, we do live in a beautiful area of the country. I have so many pictures that I don't use. I try to use current photos.

      Ron

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  3. anne marie in philly5:52 PM

    nice tribute to a loving couple. you and bill deserve the same. and you can tell him I said so!

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  4. Nice Blog.. really This is an amazing welcome addition to our Loving's history collection.

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