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My Dad Was Gay — But Married To My Mom For 64 Years. As She Died, I Overheard Something I Can't Forget.

My father was gay. He was born in 1918. In my 20s, he started telling me stories about his early life. He was out in the 1930s at a time when it wasn’t common. He had dreams that most would not believe he dared to dream. The problem with my dad telling me all of this was that he was still married to my mother.

In 1939, at a party in the Hollywood Hills with gay filmmakers and musicians, he was arrested. Police officers handcuffed the men, herded them into a van, and took them to jail. The following morning, he appeared before a judge for sentencing. Because the arresting officer couldn’t swear that he saw him touching his dance partner, he was released.

Then he was caught up in an illegal sting operation in Pasadena that targeted gay men. They were extorted by the police for cash payments in return for conditional release. His dreams of being a schoolteacher and living with his boyfriend were destroyed.

As World War II loomed, he attempted to enlist in the U.S. Navy, but he was rejected when his record revealed that he was gay. The Army eventually accepted him, perhaps because war was imminent and able-bodied men, even gay ones, were needed.

Before my father shipped out for war, he attended a USO dance on the San Francisco Peninsula. When he and a fellow soldier arrived, his buddy yelled over the loud music, “Hey, Hall, let’s get outta here. There aren’t any girls to dance with.” My mother, still in high school, was dancing with the company cook at the time. She looked up and saw what she described as “a handsome soldier with big blue eyes and white teeth,” and said, “I’ll dance with you.” My parents would retell this origin story for the rest of their lives.

Granted a furlough in September of 1942, Dad sent a telegram

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