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.



Ed De Hay, 76

Nearly every inch of Ed De Hay’s walls is covered with frames containing some form of artwork: paintings, photographs, and mementos collected throughout his lifetime.

“When I put that first hole in the wall, it was like a fever. I couldn’t stop,” he says. “And now I have to stop, because there’s no more space.”

When asked about his first love, De Hay’s answer is immediate.

“His name was Ronald. He was a professional ice skater with Sonja Henie,” De Hay says, referring to the Olympic figure skater and film star. “He was with their ice show, and they toured all over the world.”

“[Before we ever met] I used to watch him skate on the old Ed Sullivan show. And I remembered him, and I moved out here in the middle of the ’60s. We both lived in the same neighborhood… and I went to the gay bar, and he was there. We started talking, and that’s how we met.  We were together for 34 years.”

De Hay, holding a portrait of Ronald that contains a lock of his hair, recounts how his partner fell in love with skating at an early age.

“When he was a kid, he used to run away from home. And they’d say, ‘Oh, he’s at the ice show,’ says De Hay, referring to Ronald’s family. “And they said ‘OK, we’ll pay for lessons. That’s what you want to do, that’s what you want do.’”

As he toured the world, Ronald would incorporate drag and comedy into his ice skating routine, which earned him the stage name of “Ruby.”  He was also called “Mr. Christmas” by friends, because his birthday occurred close to the holiday. This coincidence factored into the themes of many of the couple’s social gatherings.

“He started what we called a ‘stitch and bitch’ club,” De Hay says. “Anybody who wanted to, he would teach them how to make Christmas ornaments. And you would bring your own booze, potato chips, and we’d just have a good time.”

“It got to the point where we could finish each other’s sentences,” De Hay remembers. “We’d go out and buy a birthday card, a Christmas card, and we’d always come home with the same one. We were like two peas in a pod. It only happens once in your life, when you meet someone like that. “