“One More Thing” – Shamed Army Veteran Uses His Obituary to Reveal His True Self

Pride season is now in full swing. With many people travelling globally to attend festivals and march in parades, the month of June appears to be one of joy and celebration. After all, who could hate glitter-filled parades?

Not So Sparkly History

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Between the sparkle and commercial takeover of the festivities, it’s easy to lose sight of why pride is important. Its history is laced with oppression and violence. The main goal of Pride is for everyone to celebrate their identity in hopes of a more accepting future.

Silence for Generations

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This struggle is still recognized by many older queer people, who remember a time when Pride was not so universally tolerated. And for much of this older crowd, a vast majority chose to stay silent about their sexuality.

Dying With a Secret

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One such iconic case is the quiet life lived by Col. Edward Thomas Ryan. Ryan passed away this year on June 1 due to complications connected to intestinal cancer. He was 85 at the time of his death, and he passed away with a secret.

Coming Out Post-Mortem 

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Ryan’s obituary, which was published on June 8th, finally revealed his lifelong secret. “I must tell you one more thing,” the message begins. “I was Gay all my life: thru grade school, thru High School, thru College, thru Life.”

Never Alone

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And Ryan did not spend his life alone. His obituary notes that he was in a long term relationship with Paul Cavagnaro. The obituary offers little information as to how the lovers met, but it highlights a relationship that spanned a quarter of a century.

More Than Friends

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Ryan commented that it “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.”

Serving His Country

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Ryan earned his military honorific of colonel during the Vietnam War, and his service did not go undecorated. He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal and the Defense of Liberty Medal for his volunteering efforts after the September 11 attacks.

A Dangerous Time

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Younger generations may find it hard to understand this fear. However, for much of Ryan’s time in uniform, individuals discovered to be having same-sex relations would warrant dismissal from service. 

Not Much Talking

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Even during the 90s a policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” restricted any active duty service members from being open about their sexuality or gender identity. This ruling wasn’t revoked until 2011.

Unapologetic in Privacy

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While many question the hesitancy in Ryan’s coming out, others will remember this unsafe environment that he might have endured due to being openly gay. Ryan touches on this aspect, refusing to apologize for keeping his love life private.

Fear of Outcasting

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“I’m sorry for not having the courage to come out as Gay,” Ryan wrote. “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.”

Not So Secret

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Ryan may have kept his relationship with Cavagnaro secret, but comments from his immediate family reveal that they always had their suspicions. His nephew, Joseph Ryan picked up on quite a few clues over the 25 years.

Clues to the Truth

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“They 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 we kind of knew,” comments Ryan’s nephew.

Not Pushing the Issue

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 When asked about the family knowing, Joseph Ryan mentioned that ”he [Edward Ryan] wasn’t one that would come right out and say anything … Our family isn’t one that tries to say anything about people.”

Paving the Way

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Col. Ryan is also survived by his niece, Linda Sargant. On an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, she mentions how his now viral obituary has been a way for many to feel comfort in discovering who they are. 

A New Door Open

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Sargent stated in her interview “I talk to him, like, ‘You don’t know what your obituary did to people around the world. People are sending messages from all over,’ In a way, he got his salute and got to open doors for other people.”

Donated to Science

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Ryan’s body has been donated to study due to his exposure to Agent Orange during his time in Vietnam. Researchers are curious about the chemical and its possible connections to Ryan’s intestinal cancer.

Put to Rest

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Upon completion of research, which is being conducted at Albany Medical College, his remains will be cremated. After cremation, Ryan will be buried next to Cavagnaro, letting the finally rest in peace alongside each other.

The post “I Must Tell You One More Thing” – Shamed Army Veteran Uses His Obituary to Reveal His True Self first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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