I'm From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3) non-profit forum for true lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer stories. Earlier this year, founder and Executive Director Nathan Manske and two companions successfully completed a four-month, 50-state Story Tour collecting LGBTQ stories from towns and cities across the country. They're pulling some of the most relevant, important, and sometimes just enjoyable stories from their archives and sharing them with HuffPost Gay Voices.
As a young man fresh from Kansas, Dean Ostrum made two homes for himself: a farm with his family in New Jersey, and a weekend apartment in New York. His love story began in the second home, like many others, on a hot summer's day in the city:
The day I met [Richard], I took my towel and moved over to the other part of the roof, and I said, "Do you care if I spread my towel out here?"
"No, that's OK," he said. I told him I was married, very proud of my four kids, and he said, "Why don't you come up and have a nightcap?"
I said, "Fine." That's how it happened. That's how we met.
Soon Richard became not only a part of Dean's life but a household name for his family:
We began to see more of each other, and there was no secret about him being a very close friend I met in New York. In fact, his telephone number, how he could be reached, was on the little slip of paper in our New Jersey farm home so that my wife or children, if they needed me, could get in touch with him, too.
Richard's integration into the Ostrum's family life did not mean that the wife and kids were naïve:
So one night, my wife had been in New York with him.... This particular night, she said, "Dean, your boys want to know if Richard is your lover."
Caught off guard, Dean stumbled to tell the truth:
Boy, I thought all along I had been very careful not to reveal what was really going on in my life as a gay man. This -- it was amazing. I lied. I said no. Fortunately, one of the children had written a letter from Ohio State, and he and his oldest brother had worked together to bring me out. He said, "I love you, I respect you, it doesn't matter one bit whether you're gay or straight, but you and Mom need to resolve this situation, because it's going to destroy both of you if you don't." I called him and assured him that I really appreciated that.
Because of his children's loving push, Dean summoned the courage to dedicate his life to Richard and invite him into the family, not just as a friend but as a lover and, eventually, a husband:
When Richard and I got married last October, we sent an email to all of our children, saying, "Surprise! We're now married." And, everyone, 100 percent, not only the children, the siblings, but the grandchildren -- many of them are old enough that they all have gay friends now -- they all were thrilled that we're married. It's not easy to resolve a difference like this, but it's the best way in the world. Be honest with yourself. And there we are. We're all happy now.
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