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A man from upstate New York has chosen his own obituary to publicly come out as gay. 

The Albany Times Union published the obituary for Col. Edward Thomas Ryan over the weekend.

Ryan was a retired Colonel with the 10th Brigade, located on South Lake Avenue, N.Y.C. and then a fireman in Rensselaer. He was a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America. 

He received several medals and honors throughout his life. This included a Defense of Liberty Medal for “participation to the State following the attack on America, 11 September 2001.”

One of six siblings, Ryan had many nephews and nieces. He seemingly lived a life of service to his community and country. Sadly, it was also a life in which he carried a secret. 

“Gay all my life”

After his career details and list of achievements, Ryan asked for the following words to be included in his obituary:

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.

In the comments section, many thanked Ryan for his service and expressed sorrow that he felt unable to live his life freely and openly.

“I am sorry you had to hide your true self from the world. Thank you for the service you gave this country and the heart you must’ve had. May you and Paul enjoy what lies in the next realm and ever after,” said one commentator. 

His service to the community did not end in death. Ryan was enrolled in the Anatomical Gift Program at Albany Medical College. After these duties are completed, his burial will be in Kinderhook, NY. 

Online, people have shared the obituary. Many have noted that his decision to keep his sexuality a secret from many of those closest to him is a reminder of why we have Pride Month. 


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