Giving on Behalf of Richard
Today Ray Vahey sent a touching email to our mailing list. We've written a lot about Ray and his partner Richard Taylor. The two were set to celebrate their 50th anniversary with a commitment ceremony this month. Sadly, Richard passed away in late July, but Ray decided to keep the date to honor Richard's memory and to raise funds for Fair Wisconsin.
Here's today's message from Ray:
This summer I lost the love of my life, Richard Taylor.
Richard and I planned a September 16 celebration to mark our 50th anniversary, but sadly he didn't live to see that day. After 49 years, the most important thing I can do is tell our story and help Fair Wisconsin tell the stories of others like us.
During World War II when Richard was 17, he convinced a reluctant father to allow him to join the Navy. Richard voluntarily put himself into harms way to protect our freedom and the rights of Americans for generations to follow. Richard fought in every theater of the war, including in the Battle of the USS Wisconsin, which is depicted in a painting that hangs today in our state Capitol.
Richard and I met and fell in love in 1956. It was a very different time, a time when we were forced to stay silent about our love for one another. We kept that silence for decades. In fact, we kept silent until just last year.
In June 2005, we spoke publicly about our love in front of hundreds of people at Pridefest. It felt great to share our story with so many others, and we vowed to speak against injustice for as long as we drew breath.
This summer Richard grew ill and had to undergo chemotherapy. We had a date to celebrate our 50th anniversary with a commitment ceremony, but suddenly, it seemed we could not wait. We did not want to lose our last opportunity to make our commitment public, something that friends and family could be there to share with us. Rev. Georgette Wonders performed the ceremony right there in the hospital, even though we still hoped to keep our September date.
For the first time, we were joined by relatives and friends we love, in person and in spirit from across the country.
From his hospital bed, Richard wrote this year's PrideFest speech with me. He could not attend, but said, "Ray, remember I'm standing right beside you." After a valiant struggle, Richard died on July 28. As I continue to fight for a more Fair Wisconsin, I know he is standing by me even today.
Our first 48 years were wonderful, but our last year together was by far the most spectacular because of what it felt like to be more open about our lives and to join all of you in struggling against the ban.
I know Richard wanted to join me in this struggle. I have kept our anniversary celebration date. On September 16, friends and family will instead celebrate Richard's memory.
If you would like to join me in honoring Richard's life, please consider making a contribution to Fair Wisconsin. This contribution will help Fair Wisconsin continue to tell the stories of families like ours and so many others who will be deeply affected by the ban.
He's planning quite the event, and welcomes anyone in the Milwaukee area to join in the celebration of Richard Taylors life. Of course, if you can't make it, you can still give on Richard's behalf.