After a lifetime in the closet, a pair of elderly veterans have finally found happiness together.
During a recent Storycorps interview, 100-year-old World War II veteran John Banvard and his husband, 72-year-old Vietnam vet Gerard “Jerry” Nadeau, revealed that although they’ve been together for almost 25 years, their relationship never quite felt legitimate until they made it public.
The pair met in 1993, nearly a decade after Banvard’s wife of more than 35 years passed away. Neither of them had ever been in a serious relationship with another man. It was a classic case of opposites attract: Banvard loved art and theater, while Nadeau was more interested in the rugged outdoors. But they fell for each other and quickly became inseparable.
After enjoying more than two decades of companionship, the men moved into a veterans’ home in Chula Vista, California, together. They initially kept the nature of their relationship quiet, fearful of discrimination from fellow residents.
But in 2013, they decided they didn’t care what other people thought—they wanted to get married.
When veterans John Banvard, 100, and Jerry Nadeau, 72, first met 25 years ago, the two seemed worlds apart. They had different interests, and neither had been in a serious relationship with a man. But they soon became inseparable. At StoryCorps, they looked back on their marriage and relationship. In case you missed it on @morningedition, to our story of the week in our bio. . . . #lovestory #love #marriage #relationships #companionship #valentinesday #lgbt #lgbtq #military #veterans #centenarian #memories #chulavista #sandiego #storytelling #oralhistory #archive #storycorps
“I was expecting we’d be ridiculed,” Banvard admitted. But they moved forward anyway. The two tied the knot in in 2013 in a ceremony at the nursing home, where they fully embraced being non-traditional: Hot dogs were served as the main course.
“We said, ’If you came to see the bride, you’re out of luck!’” Nadeau shared, laughing.
Thankfully, Banvard and Nadeau have discovered the other residents have been very accepting and kind. What’s more, their story reminds us that, even if it comes later in life, it’s never too late to find true love.
“You’ve made my life complete,” Nadeau tells Banvard at the end of the interview.
“I could say the same thing to you,” Banvard replies. “I think we’re probably as happy together as any two people you’re likely to meet.”