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100-year-old World War II veteran celebrates 25 years with his husband

Nick Duffy February 11, 2018
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A 100-year-old veteran who served during the Second World War is celebrating 25 years with his husband.

John Banvard, 100, is celebrating 25 years since he first met his husband, Gerard ‘Jerry’ Nadeau, 72.

The pair were both in the closet when they first met – but came to terms with their sexuality after finding eachother.

John and Jerry have plenty in common – both are combat veterans, with John serving in the military during World War II and Jerry during the Vietnam war.

In a feature for NPR’s Story Corps, Jerry explained: “When I first met you, John, you were 75 years old.

“When we met, we were sort of in the closet, and I never had a real relationship. Now we’ve been together almost 25 years.”

John added: “[If I hadn’t met you] I would have continued being lonely. I’d been absolutely lost.”

But against everything, the pair stayed together.

And when John moved into a veterans’ retirement home in Chula Vista, California, Jerry moved in with him.

The pair both grew up at a time when gay people were actively persecuted – but were pleasantly surprised by the reaction they received in the retirement community.

Jerry explained: “When we moved into the veterans home, we moved in together. And a lot of people were wondering, I wonder what their relationship is.”

John added: “I was expecting we’d be ridiculed, and there was very little of that.”

When same-sex marriage became legal in 2013, the pair tied the knot in a ceremony at the home – after 20 years together.

Jerry recalled: “We said, ‘if you came to see the bride, you’re out of luck!’

“[Later] I was with you in the cafeteria and somebody came up, and they were with their family. And they said, ‘oh, this is Gerard Nadeau, and this is his husband, John’. I’d never heard that before.”

Speaking to his partner, Jerry said: “You’ve made my life complete.”

John added: “I could say the same thing to you. I think we’re probably as happy together as any two people you’re likely to meet.”

Check out the clip via NPR here:

Related: Read these love letters from a WW2 soldier to his boyfriend

Related topics: Gay, LGBT, soldier, US, Veteran, World War II

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