D Gregory Smith

A Son Comes Home

Filed By D Gregory Smith | December 15, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: coming out of the closet, Gregory Hinton, growing up queer, LGBT stories, Montana, Out West, Public Radio, Wyoming

Out West Executive Producer, Gregory Hinton did a radio interview for Yellowstone Public Radio recently.

gregory-hinton-350.jpgHe talks about growing up in the American West, coming out as a gay man and coming home to Montana. He expresses articulately and beautifully many of the struggles and triumphs that we all share.

He also speaks to the need for greater understanding of the gifts and stories that LGBT persons bring to our life out West- and his vision to help accomplish that.

Full disclosure: Greg is a dear friend, collaborator and fellow Montanan, and you will still find this worth listening to.

Listen to the program here. It's 29 minutes long.

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I signed in earlier and wrote a fairly lengthy response but something happened and it did not appear. Don't know if I can remember it all.

Greg, as you know, my late partner, Jack Waite, was a native Montanan. He was born in Utica, raised on a ranch there and went to high school in Lewistown. His maternal grandfather was a ranch owner, a state senator, and the founder of a bank in Lewistown. (As an aside, the great western artist, Charles Russell, was a ranch hand on the ranch.) Obviously, Jack was gay and he told me that hostility toward "queers" was rampant back in the 1920s and 30s. He remained closeted even through college.

He was like Mr. Hinton's brother and didn't "cotton" to the macho stuff expected of a ranch kid. He simply could not abide the slaughter of the animals nor did he like to hunt or fish. A true animal lover.

When he graduated from the University of Montana, he did as Mr. Hinton did -- he went farther west and landed in Hollywood where he got a job as the personal assistant to the Academy Award winning actor, Fredric March. In that capacity he became acquainted with Harry Crowley, a musician who taught piano to Mr. March's wife. Harry and Jack were partners for 39 years until Harry died in 1979.

In the meantime they had relocated to New York state. Jack served 4 years in the navy during WWII; Harry did not serve. When Harry died, I met Jack about 4 years later. I was 52 and living in Santa Fe at the time and we courted long distance until I relocated to New York as well. We were together for 26 years -- the happiest years of my life until he died in 2009, just as did Mr. Hinton's father, of lung cancer even though he was non-smoker.

I am glad Mr. Hinton was comfortable in returning to his native state and doing that interview. Because of his experiences as a closeted gay man in Montana, Jack was never too keen about going back, even though we did visit there a couple of times together. He would have been happy to hear that progress is being made in his native state re: treatment and acceptance of glbt persons.

I am grateful for being able to have heard the interview with Mr. Hinton. It allowed me to relive some of my happier times with my "cowboy." Thanks, Greg, for bringing it to our attention.

What a heart touching speaker. Thanks for sharing Greg!