Seattle Artist’s Poignant Plan To Memorialize His Gay Grandfather Who Came Out At 90

James Rehnberg, Baptist pastor and WWII veteran, came out a year before his death at the age of 90, so his gay grandson Grant decided to create an installation to work through their “complicated relationship” and explore the parallels between their lives.

It’s easy to get caught up in the battles we as gay people are still collectively fighting, from violent hate crimes to marriage equality to global acceptance. But we live in a remarkable time in history, and the Seattle-based artist’s intimate project — The Family Connection — offers perspective on embracing how far the world has come while honoring those who were never able to be their true selves with the ones they loved.

Here’s the fundraising video Grant put together, which certainly succeeded at tugging our heartstrings:

And here is the fundraising page Grant put together.

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  • Jonty Coppersmith

    How sad that a man lived 90 yrs and only managed to reveal his truth a few months before he died. I also feel sorry for the woman he was married to for so many years, that he whole marriage was a lie.

  • Jonty Coppersmith

    edit: last line

    that her whole marriage was a lie.

  • jcortez

    Seriously, I’m all for people coming out and living their truth, and this proves it’s never too late to come out… but I feel bad for Grandma Doris. She lived with a man for 65 years and he thought of someone else as the love of his life. He’s gonna have some explaining to do when he gets to heaven! ;-)

  • Ruhlmann

    There’s no such thing as heaven. She must have had some measure of happiness to have stayed with him for all those years and that’s what most gay men did on the other side of the seventies. They got married or went to prison.

  • jcortez

    @Ruhlmann: I was just kidding about the heaven comment. Still, staying with someone for a long time doesn’t mean the marriage was happy or satisfying, particularly in an era where divorce was severely restricted, either legally or due to social norms.

  • DickieJohnson

    There’s no way of knowing just how many other men have experienced a similar life in times past. I wonder how many servicemen, and women, met during WWII, then never saw each other again? What a great opportunity this is for Grant to show this touching story.

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