READ: A Heartbreaking Letter Of Lost Love Between Two Gay WWII GIs

Long before the days of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — and its subsequent repeal — Dave and Brian fell in love against the backdrop of World War II. In this letter, originally published in a 1961 issue of One magazine, Brian Keith recalls the fleeting romance that changed his life.


Letter courtesy of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries


h/t: Upworthy | Cover Photo

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  • D P


  • avesraggiana

    Wow….can anybody even write like this anymore? These days, the best I can get is a text – “ur hawt”.

  • Cam

    That letter is so sad, I’m happy they had that time together, but it tears at your heart to think about what happened at the end.

  • Franklin

    I feel like the ability to love like this has been lost on today’s gays, with most of us choosing to base our love on the physical and confuse the strength of that love with the strength of our orgasms.

  • balehead

    Fake letter….

  • avesraggiana

    @balehead: And then there’s the cynicism.

  • Ruhlmann

    Brian Keith the actor? People who know and appreciate what’s important instinctively write like this.

  • Bozen

    It’s a nice sentiment…

    But is it 1961 propaganda or 1961 real?
    I hate open endings. Did he die?

  • neostud

    @D P: I KNOW. I KNOW. What a sweet love they must have shared.

  • neostud

    @Bozen: I was wondering the same thing.

  • kurt_t

    @Ruhlmann… funny you should ask. Brian Keith, the actor, was my mother’s first cousin. He was a marine in the Second World War, stationed in the Pacific Theater.

    And his real name was Robert Keith. He was named after his dad, also an actor, and you know how that goes. You can’t have two actors with the same name, and I guess Robert Keith, Jr., didn’t have much of a ring to it, so that’s how he became Brian Keith.

    And he liked girls.

  • Jake357

    @balehead: And there’s balehead again, proving once more he is as intelligent as a bale of mouldering hay. I suspect much of what he says comes from a mouth resembling a prolapsed and highly warted anus.

  • pauleky

    Really pathetic when you can read nasty comments on something as beautiful as this. I don’t expect anything less, really – it’s just sad.

    And, I think it’s pretty clear Dave didn’t make it home. Can’t fathom why it’s not obvious to some.

  • alterego1980

    I would love to know more about how Brian lived, an loved. Based on the letter, i’m betting it would be one hell of a story.

  • Charles175

    @balehead: Even if the letter was fake, it is refreshing to see some real romantic thoughts for a change.

  • ho

    Mr. Bill, Mr. Bill. Mr. French tried to cornhole me.

  • gjg64

    Whomever among us doesn’t tear up reading this is pathetic.

  • bmwblonde

    Hey all you guys who think gay romance is a thing of the past —
    SEE MY BLOG — about “making gay marriage (actually) work ~
    at — or better still, read my book about
    a 30-year gay “marriage” (before it could be called that, at

    Romance (after the initial flare-up) — takes savvy work.
    Young guys who can’t do better than text “Ur hawt” — are in trouble!

  • Wilbready

    I have found a man that loves like Brian did. He knows all about past flames that spark, only to die out just as fast. We understand each other. I come from a failed marriage and the lie that was told too often. He comes from the early days when a gay man had too much fun, before the spread of that dreadful disease.
    We know how to love, learning from the past and communicating about the future. It is wonderful and exciting and after more than 3 years together, we still manage to surprise each other and live our love to the fullest.

  • avesraggiana

    @bmwblonde: Amen. And going through an ex-lover’s deleted texts and emails, if one can even recover them, is just not quite the same.

  • wellesian

    Can’t imagine why Queerty would’ve picked this up without it being bounced around in the music press as the source of Goldfrapp’s song “Clay” off their new “Tales of Us” record–worth chasing down, beautiful tune and pretty devastating as a finale to their set at the Beacon Tuesday night.

  • LadyL

    Beautiful and heartbreaking.
    Real love endures.

  • Dxley

    Balehead should be decapitated. OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!!

  • Greg Garavani

    It’s been 20 min now and tears can’t stop running down my face, the saddest letter I’ve ever read. I feel so crushed inside, we’re so starved for love when and when we see true romance like this…I just can’t get over it. I wonder if ever after that publishing they saw each other again? :(

  • LadyL

    @Greg Garavani: It reads to me like Dave was killed (“…fate knew better–you never got there”) so I doubt it.

  • jwrappaport

    Beautiful and sad. A refreshing reminder that romance and true love aren’t dead, and of fond memories of sneaking into a “friend’s” barracks pre-DADT repeal.

  • Polaro

    It would be nice to know the whole story.

Comments are closed.