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Army veteran comes out as gay in obituary: ‘Now my secret is known, I’ll forever rest in peace’

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan shared that he was "in a loving and caring relationship" with a man for "25 years"

By Jamie Tabberer

A picture of Col Edward Thomas Ryan in uniform in his youth, and right, later in life
Col Edward Thomas Ryan (Images: Hans Funeral Home)

A decorated army veteran who fought in Vietnam has come out as gay in his obituary after passing away at the age of 85.

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan died in his home in Albany, New York, having lived in nearby Rensselaer for much of his life.

Ryan’s obituary was published on Saturday, 8 June, in the Albany Times Union. It states that Ryan was a brother to five siblings and survived by many nieces and nephews.

“I was gay all my life”

“I must tell you one more thing. I was gay all my life,” the veteran stated in the obituary.

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan pictured with friends (Image: Hans Funeral Home)

Ryan also disclosed that he was “in a loving and caring relationship” with a man named Paul Cavagnaro, who was “the love of my life.”

“We had 25 great years together,” he wrote, revealing that Cavagnaro “died in 1994 from a medical procedure gone wrong.” They will be buried together, he said.

Elsewhere in the obituary, Ryan – who was also a retired fireman and an owner and founder of radio station WHRL-FM – said he was “sorry for not having the courage to come out as gay.”

“I was afraid of being ostracised,” he explained. “By family, friends, and co-workers. Seeing how people like me were treated, I just could not do it.”

He then added: “Now that my secret is known, I’ll forever rest in peace.”

“I love the way you went to heaven during Pride month”

One person commented beneath the obituary: “I met Tom when I married to his partner Paul´s nephew. We enjoyed several holidays, dinners, picnics together.

“He was a true gentleman, and it was unfortunate that he felt he had to hide his being gay. He and Paul were a lot of fun together. May he finally be at peace.”

Another said: “This obituary gave me chills. I never met your uncle/friend/brother… But what a man he was. RIP Ed. You got the last word. I love the way you went to heaven during pride month. Thank you for your service.”