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Gay Man's Grandfather Came Out to Him at Age 90, Five Months Before He Died: VIDEO

Rehnberg

Artist Grant Rehnberg's grandfather came out to him at age 90, five months before he died.

Writes Rehnberg: 3_rehnberg

We buried my Grandpa Jim one month ago.  

Baptist pastor, World War II veteran (218th Counter Intelligence Corps), preceded in death by Grandma Doris, his wife of sixty-five years.  

Five months ago, Grandpa Jim told me he is gay.

Sitting over photos of my husband Bradford and I at our wedding, my ninety-year-old grandfather proudly celebrated “the balls it takes” to live openly.  He told me about the love of his life, Warren Johnson, a boy he played music with at church.  He told me God loves every part of us.  He told me he would trade places with me if he could.  He told me he loved me.  

I put picture of Bradford and me in his suit coat pocket and a red rose on his coffin.

Rehnberg is creating a memorial installation in honor of his grandfather and is looking to fund it through Indiegogo.

Check out his video and unique story, AFTER THE JUMP...

(via reddit)

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Comments

  1. A very touching story.It is truly amazing to look back at the changes that have happened over two generations.

    Posted by: Ready | Mar 10, 2014 11:04:45 AM


  2. Beautiful.

    Posted by: Jude | Mar 10, 2014 11:51:55 AM


  3. So sad it took him so long to share his truth, but glad he was able to before he passed. It must have been a poignant and special moment between them.

    Posted by: Kenneth | Mar 10, 2014 12:05:46 PM


  4. Bittersweet but lovely. I remember sitting on a MUNI train in the early 1990s after working a breakfast for LGBT seniors as part of Lavender Youth, and having a male couple in their 70's chat me up and tell me how much it meant to them to see young people who were Out and making a difference, especially after the generation of gay men in between us had largely disappeared due to AIDS. The world really has changed, just in my 46 years on Earth.

    Posted by: Dback | Mar 10, 2014 12:21:00 PM


  5. What a great story and indeed very touching that Grant's grandfather would open up to him.

    I wonder whatever happened to Warren Johnson and whether the two gentlemen remained friends or in touch throughout their lives.

    Posted by: Mark | Mar 10, 2014 12:48:35 PM


  6. "...photos of my husband and *ME*..."!!

    Weren't people taught proper pronoun usage in school??? Beautiful story, but improper grammar is so ugly.

    Posted by: calansf | Mar 10, 2014 1:24:44 PM


  7. One, when someone tells you something important to them, your role is to LISTEN, not to correct their grammar.

    Especially, two, when there's nothing wrong with their grammar. ME is the object of a preposition here and is properly in the objective case.

    Posted by: Murdoch | Mar 10, 2014 1:53:37 PM


  8. Sorry Mudoch. English is a living language. The English rules we learn are based on what was easiest to communicate at that time to the class we were in. His pronoun use is common and accurately reflects his meaning and intent. If you don't like someone's usage. Communicate frequently using the rules, not spelling them out, you'd like others to adopt.

    Posted by: Dave | Mar 10, 2014 2:08:14 PM


  9. MURDOCH
    Who are you to tell me what my job is? Isn't it the job of everyone to use proper grammar.

    More people are inclined to listen to and respect his story if he were to use proper grammar.

    And, thanks for your attempt at teaching me proper grammar, but if you look closely, he incorrectly wrote "...photos of my husband and I..." which I properly corrected in my prior post.

    Posted by: calansf | Mar 10, 2014 2:14:31 PM


  10. Actually the author wrote it both ways: "photos of my husband Bradford and I" and "picture of Bradford and me." I noticed at first only the former since it's grammatically incorrect and ugly. I find the incorrectly used "and I" very annoying.

    Posted by: AG | Mar 10, 2014 2:26:21 PM


  11. Thank you, AG! I agree 100%. Unfortunately, the bastardization of pronoun usage has become way too prevalent. "Her and me went to the grocery store."

    I wholeheartedly disagree with DAVE. Just because these mistakes are widely made nowadays and might accurately convey the speaker's meaning and intent does not in any way mean they should be acceptable...unless you want to sound like uneducated trailer trash.

    Posted by: calansf | Mar 10, 2014 2:41:41 PM


  12. Thank you, AG! I agree 100%. Unfortunately, the bastardization of pronoun usage has become way too prevalent. "Her and me went to the grocery store."

    I wholeheartedly disagree with DAVE. Just because these mistakes are widely made nowadays and might accurately convey the speaker's meaning and intent does not in any way mean they should be acceptable...unless you want to sound like uneducated trailer trash.

    Posted by: calansf | Mar 10, 2014 2:42:00 PM


  13. Thank you, AG! I agree 100%. Unfortunately, the bastardization of pronoun usage has become way too prevalent. "Her and me went to the grocery store."

    I wholeheartedly disagree with DAVE. Just because these mistakes are widely made nowadays and might accurately convey the speaker's meaning and intent does not in any way mean they should be acceptable...unless you want to sound like uneducated trailer trash.

    Posted by: calansf | Mar 10, 2014 2:42:07 PM


  14. Oops. Sorry for multiple posts. It's not always confirmed after the first try.

    Posted by: calansf | Mar 10, 2014 2:45:56 PM


  15. They made their goal! Congrats!

    Posted by: Cruz Caldera | Mar 10, 2014 3:23:52 PM


  16. very interesting story.

    Posted by: reality | Mar 10, 2014 3:25:24 PM


  17. I'm happy he made his goal. What a marvelous story.

    Posted by: Carlos | Mar 10, 2014 3:35:15 PM


  18. What a gift to be able to share something so honest and intimate with your grandfather. My Granddaddy was a Southern Baptist. He was as outspokenly racist and bigoted as the culture in South GA where we came from expected, but I always suspected there was another side of him as well. When I came out to him he was in his 80's. I expected the worst but he surprised me. His simple and perfect response was, "You love who you love son". That was it. No condemnation, no judgement, no asking me to change or repent. He accepted my truth and me completely. He had lots of questions later on. We spent the rest of his life having long phone conversations on Sundays (he lived in South GA, I lived in San Francisco) about nature, the environment, religion, politics, race, and culture. He opened up to me like he never had with anyone else in my family. So much of what I had known of him was only for show. The real man was so much more complex, so much more thoughtful and so much more in touch with everyone and everything around him than the image that he projected in our family and our small, rural community revealed. If I hadn't been honest and shared my true self with him I never would have really known who he was either.

    Posted by: Ken | Mar 10, 2014 3:38:21 PM


  19. I can relate to that. The night before my husband and I were to get married my 94-year old mother telephoned to ask if that meant that she would be his mother-in-law. I asked her if she wanted to be, and she immediately said "YES!" Case was settled. A few years later we both sat with her at her very last until she took her last breath. She loved her son and her son-in-law so very much.

    Posted by: TomR | Mar 10, 2014 5:17:05 PM


  20. This was a moving story. It is heartening that his grandfather lived long enough to breathe the air of freedom that allowed him to speak of the love of his life.
    At least he had that.
    And that too took ball$.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Mar 10, 2014 5:22:52 PM


  21. This tale leaves me feeling very melancoly. It's so upsetting and disturbing this decent man andmany,many others down through the centuries has had to hide who he was, due to brutal, even genocidal, persecution of homosexuals. How many homosexuals down through the ages developed serious mental health issues, became dysfunctional alcoholics, druggies, became destitute and homeless, died a lonely death or committed suicide? It's horrendous. God rest this man's soul and rest in piece, same for the millions of other homosexuals like him who also suffered and sufferbrutal opression and hate.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 10, 2014 7:56:14 PM


  22. I suspect that my own grandfather was gay. After three marriages he spent his final 30 years or more way out in a shack in the woods of Alberta. Who knows...it does run in the blood and I am certainly gay. There have been lots of gay elders who never came out, and it's so tragic.

    One time I met a very gay grandfather on a ferry boat in B.C., trying to be nice he could nevertheless hardly keep from groping me while he made himself clear. His wife was nearby, overheard him, rolled her eyes and said, "what next?", she had been through the mill with him apparetly and seemed merely exasperated. He wanted to make up for lost time so badly.

    In my view we have many many lives and therefor lots of opportunities to get it right with the right satisfaction. Still, nothing is quite so poignant as meeting people who seem to have missed the boat this time around.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Mar 10, 2014 11:14:50 PM


  23. Oh, c'mon. It's so beautiful and sweet, let's just chalk it up to poetic license!


    Celia: "You know my father hath no child but I...." (As You Like It - Act I, Scene 2)

    Othello: "Yes. You have seen Cassio and she together." (Othello - Act IV, Scene 2)

    Juliet: "And yet no man like he doth grieve my heart." (Romeo and Juliet - Act III, Scene 5)

    Bassanio: "All debts are cleared between you and I." (Merchant of Venice - Act III, Scene 2)

    Macbeth: "And damned be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'" (Macbeth - Act V, Scene 8)

    Posted by: William Shakespeare | Mar 11, 2014 2:15:39 AM


  24. That entire discussion of grammar in this context was just plain stupid. You guys must be really miserable to reduce such a meaningful cause to something so trivial. Pitiful.

    Posted by: stanhope | Mar 11, 2014 4:46:17 AM


  25. If the grandfather had not had children with the grandmother, the grandson would not have a family connection with them.

    Posted by: Kathy | Mar 28, 2014 9:40:25 PM


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