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2 gay veterans on their 25 years of love

The 1969 police raid at Stonewall Inn in New York City was a watershed moment in LGBTQ history. After years of police harassment and mistreatment, the bar’s patrons fought back. As part of the NewsHour’s coverage of the 50th anniversary, we share an animated StoryCorps conversation between two gay veterans about their 25 years of love. It's part of StoryCorps' “Stonewall Outloud” collection.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Fifty years ago this month, violent demonstrations by the gay community against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York's Greenwich Village led to the modern gay rights movement.

    Tonight, as part of "NewsHour"'s ongoing coverage of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, over the next several days, we are sharing a report from StoryCorps.

    It's a conversation between John Banvard and Jerry Nadeau, both military veterans who served in World War II and Vietnam, respectively. At the time, John, 100, and Jerry, 72, sat down in the veterans home where they live to reflect on their 25 years together.

    StoryCorps records meaningful conversations across the country that are preserved in an archive at the Library of Congress.

    This is an animation of their conversation.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    Hello. My name is Jerry Nadeau. I'm with John Banvard.

  • John Banvard:

    And I was born in Brooklyn, New York.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    No, no, no, no. You got to say your name and everything. Hello, my name is…

  • John Banvard:

    Hello. My name is John Banvard. I am 100 years of age.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    When I first met you, John, you were 75 years old. What would it have been like if you didn't meet me?

  • John Banvard:

    I would've continued being lonely. I had been absolutely lost.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    When we met, we were sort of in the closet.

  • John Banvard:

    Yes.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    And I never had a real relationship. Now we have been together almost 25 years. And when we moved into the veterans home, we moved in together. And a lot of people were wondering, I wonder what their relationship is?

  • John Banvard:

    Yes.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    Well, when we got married, they knew what our relationship was.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • John Banvard:

    I was expecting we'd be ridiculed. And there was very little of that.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    We got married at the veterans home. And we said, if you came to see the bride, you're out of luck.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    Do you remember that?

  • John Banvard:

    Yes, of course.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    It was very informal.

  • John Banvard:

    It was done simply, yes.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    We served hot dogs.

  • John Banvard:

    Which is hardly wedding food.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    Remember, John, I was with you in the cafeteria and somebody came up, and they were with their family, and they said, oh, this is Gerard Nadeau, and this is his husband, John.

    I had never heard that before.

  • John Banvard:

    Yes. That was very nice.

  • Jerry Nadeau:

    You have made my life complete.

  • John Banvard:

    I could say the same thing to you. I think we're probably as happy together as any two people you're likely to meet.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    This story is part of StoryCorps' Stonewall OutLoud collection, in honor of the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in June 1969.

    StoryCorps is working to preserve the personal histories of members of the LGBTQ community.

    You can find more animations and information on how to record your own conversation on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

Listen to this Segment

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