This June, we are marking Pride Month by sharing the stories of WAY Widowed and Young members who are also members of the LGBTQ+ community...
Lisa and Linda's wedding day
We wanted to start with the story of Lisa, who lost her wife Linda 16 months after their wedding. Here is Lisa's story...
"It's said that life begins at 40... for me, that cliche was so true. That was the age when I meet the most amazing woman, who was later to become my wife.
Our worlds were so far apart and yet we had so much in common. A chance encounter was how we met, and yet Linda always believed that one day our paths would have crossed.
Within days of meeting, I knew that Linda was one special lady. I plucked up the courage and told her exactly that, not quite knowing how it would be received.
She always said I was the bravest person that she knew, but to me it was her that was the bravest... for believing in me.
On our wedding day Linda read out the following passage... 'An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch and tangle but it will never break.'
16 months later and she was gone, in an instant, an accident, no time... just not enough time. In Linda I found my red thread."
Lisa and Linda
We'd also like to share Andrew's story of love for his partner Jerry and coming out to Jerry's family just before his death...
"My beautiful partner of 11 years, Jerry, didn’t officially come out to his family as gay until two days before he died. He had been rushed into the ICU due to side effects from his melanoma treatment, and then learned that his cancer had spread and was now terminal.
Because we’d been waiting until he came out before we got married, we never got to have the dream wedding he’d been planning for years. He loved planning weddings, even considered doing it as a career, and did an amazing job organising weddings for two of his sisters. But we did get to have a wonderful unofficial ceremony with the hospital chaplain in the ICU, celebrating the enduring power of love. The ICU staff were wonderful. One of them filmed the ceremony for us and they all congratulated us. Another confided in us that she was also in a same-sex relationship and that her partner also worked for the NHS and had looked after my husband at the cancer centre.
I was worried how his family might react to the news about Jerry being gay, particularly as they were hearing it on the same day that they learned he was dying. I have read stories of same-sex partners being rejected by their in-laws in similar circumstances. But in fact they couldn’t have been kinder and more loving. They told him that they accepted me into their family and that he didn’t need to worry, they would look after me even after he died (and they really have). His mum now calls me “son”. We sat together with him while he was dying and kept telling him we loved him. His family made sure I could have some time alone with him to say goodbye if I needed it. And we were all there together by his side when he finally passed.
In the midst of this awful, devastating time, the unconditional love and acceptance his family has shown has been humbling. His mum explained that she’d known for years that he was gay, she was just waiting for him to tell her in his own time. She didn’t mind, she just wanted him to be happy and loved. I only wish now that he’d felt ready to tell them earlier so that we could have shared our love with his family for longer."
Andrew (on right) with Jerry