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Retired firefighter and veteran comes out as gay — in his obituary

Edward Thomas Ryan Retired firefighter and veteran comes out as gay in his obituary
Obituary photo via legacy.com

Edward Thomas Ryan apologized for not having had the courage to come out in life, but the mistreatment he saw gay people experience deterred him.

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A retired firefighter, decorated military veteran, and entrepreneur in upstate New York has come out as gay — in his obituary.

“I must tell you one more thing. I was Gay all my life: thru grade school, thru High School, thru College, thru Life,” Edward Thomas Ryan said in the obit, published Saturday in the Albany Times Union. “I was in a loving and caring relationship with Paul Cavagnaro of North Greenbush. He was the love of my life. We had 25 great years together. Paul died in 1994 from a medical Procedure gone wrong. I’ll be buried next to Paul. I’m sorry for not having the courage to come out as Gay. I was afraid of being ostracized: by Family, Friends, and Co-Workers. Seeing how people like me were treated, I just could not do it. Now that my secret is known, I’ll forever Rest in Peace.”

Ryan was a firefighter for the city of Rensselaer, where he spent his life until a recent move to Albany. He was an Army veteran, having retired with the rank of colonel, and was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America and several other veterans’ organizations. He was a chef at an American Legion post in East Greenbush, N.Y., and was one of the founders and owners of FM radio station WHRL in Albany.

He received a medal for his service to New York State following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and a citation from the state praising his “loyalty, diligence, and devotion to duty,” among other honors.

He arranged to donate organs to the Anatomical Gift Program at Albany Medical College, and when its work is completed, his remains will be cremated and returned to his family for burial. There will be a private funeral service for family only. His survivors include five siblings and 14 nieces and nephews.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.