John M. Becker

90-Year-Old Man Came Out to Gay Grandson Just Before He Died

Filed By John M. Becker | March 15, 2014 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: coming out, complicated relationships, gay grandfather, grandparents, intergenerational

grant-rehnberg-gay-grandpa.jpgGrant Rehnberg, a married gay artist living in Seattle, learned that his 90-year-old grandfather was gay when he came out of the closet just four months before he died.

Rehnberg writes:

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 plans to construct a memorial art installation to mourn and honor his grandfather's memory and to reconcile their experiences as gay men living in vastly different generations. A video of him explaining his project is after the jump.

If I had to guess, I'd bet that there are a lot of gay grandfathers out there. Have any of you had similar experiences across generations of your family? If so, what was it like? How did you process the information? Did you find out before or after the person died?


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