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

After a lifetime of secrecy, a decorated veteran came out as gay in his obituary.

Col. Edward Thomas Ryan, who is said to have lived most of his life in Rennselaer, New York, was a brother, uncle, retired firefighter and Army veteran. He also was gay, the late Ryan wrote in his own obituary.

The obituary, published by the Albany Times Union on June 8, 2024, ended with a message written by Ryan himself.

“I must tell you one more thing. I was Gay all my life: thru grade school, thru High School, thru College, thru Life,” he revealed, adding that he found love in a relationship with a man from North Greenbush, New York.

“He was the love of my life,” Ryan wrote. “We had 25 great years together.”

Ryan went on to say that his love died in 1994 “from a medical procedure gone wrong” and that he will be buried next to him.

Ryan concluded by explaining why he did not come out in his lifetime.

“I’m sorry for not having the courage to come out as Gay,” he 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. Now that my secret is known, I’ll forever Rest in Peace.”

The obituary included a painting of a man, seemingly Ryan, in his military uniform.

By the evening of June 12, around 150 people had written messages of support for the late veteran in the obituary’s comments section.

“May you rest peacefully in the arms of your forever love. I’m so sorry that you never felt safe to be your authentic self,” one person responded. “Your bravery followed you beyond death.”

“A fine American. A life of service that continues with his final wishes to share his truth so others may learn of love,” another commented.

“Sir, I am so sorry that you had to live a life in secret,” another responder wrote. “No one should ever have to wait until death to be happy. May your soul and spirit live on in happiness with your true love. Humanity can be so unkind to the kindest individuals. May you and your soulmate continue your love without judgment and boundaries.”