9 Tales of Young Love and Old Memories

Nine residents of Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing share stories of love from the past and present.



Melvin Weiss, 77

For Melvin Weiss, a Pittsburgh native, one of the most terrifying moments of his life occurred in Amsterdam, where he lived for 13 years. After answering a knock at his door, he found himself looking squarely at a pistol. The man holding the gun was an ex of Weiss’s partner at the time, Henny. The armed stranger claimed Henny owed him money.

Improvising a scheme, Weiss called the neighbor downstairs, purportedly to ask if Henny was there. (Henny was hiding in the closet.) Through a series of “yes” and “no” responses and a little luck, the neighbor realized their plight and called the police. They were saved. But their relationship was already on a downward spiral.

Weiss originally met Henny after moving to Amsterdam, a city whose Old World charms and liberal ideas about sexuality inspired Weiss to make it his home. He opened a sex shop, which was where he met the man with whom he’d share the next seven years.

“He came by one evening,” recounts Weiss, who says Henny was initially looking for his business partner. “He was in a bad mood. He was having a problem with a younger lover. He was always complaining that he was attracted to younger people, but every time he does that, it’s a problem situation. He didn’t want to go back to the apartment because he was afraid the kid would be there. So I said, ‘Fine, come over to my place. You can sleep on the couch.’”

“Somewhere during the middle of the night, he picked himself up and got into my bed,” he continues. “He laid down next to me and held on for dear life.”

A relationship began. Both of the men were in their 30s at the time.

Henny operated a “house with boys,” a brothel, which is legal in the Netherlands. As their relationship progressed, Weiss found himself becoming a father figure to the young men supervised by Henny, who had a difficult time managing their affairs. Ultimately, Henny left Weiss for an older man, a “sugar daddy in the south of Holland,” but Weiss maintains that he realized the relationship was over the day that the man with the gun arrived.

“I knew that was the end,” Weiss says. “As far as relationships go, it always has to be a two-way street. And when I realized it was a one-way street… there’s nothing there. But he was my first real love. The first [person] I ever gave myself completely to in a relationship.”

Today, Weiss says age and singlehood have given him a sense of freedom from the dramas of the past.

“I enjoy my freedom. I enjoy being alone,” he says. “I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it.”