Sharing LGBT stories with StoryCorps: EMTs arrived within minutes
As part of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington on April 25, 1993, the Task Force is joining with StoryCorps to share real-life stories about LGBT people as we approach that anniversary date.
Today we share the story of David Wilson who lost his partner, Ron Loso, to a heart attack in 1994. At the hospital that day, officials refused to give David information on Ron’s condition because the two men were not married. Ten years later, David became a plaintiff in the case that legalized marriage equality in the state of Massachusetts. Here, he talks about the events in his life that led him to that moment.
DW: EMTs arrived within minutes and they called the police, because they saw me standing in the driveway. You know, an African American man in a white neighborhood. When the police arrived they wanted to arrest me for assault and battery, and breaking and entering. When I got to the hospital, I found out that they weren’t going to give me any information because I had no relationship to Ron. As far as they were concerned, I was a stranger. They called Ron’s family in Vermont and said, “Can you give permission for us to talk to David?” And his 75-year old mom said, “Of course, they’re partners.” So, they came out and they said that he was dead on arrival.
My whole world just kind of fell apart, and I felt pretty broken, you know? Where do I go from here? So I joined a support group. One meeting in walked a man, that man’s name was Rob Compton. Three years later we had a commitment ceremony, lots of people came and thought it was our wedding. We said no, this isn’t a wedding, because we don’t have the right to get married. So, it was amazing to become a plaintiff in a major lawsuit against the state of Massachusetts. Part of the decision to be part of the case was to talk with my family. My dad wasn’t sure. All of a sudden his only son is going to become this prominent, out, gay black man. So I talked with Dad about some of the issues. A couple of hours later Dad said, “You’re doing the right thing.”
May 17th, 2004 was the first weddings. Dad said, “You’re going to city hall and going to be part of all this excitement, what about me?” I said, “Dad I’m sending a limo to pick you up.” My dad had never been in a limo. He got a new suit, came down‚ and the limo took him down and he, he was in the front row when we walked down the isle. Both his arms were in the air. He was 89 at that point. And he didn’t see it just for gay people, he saw it for, you know, all people that had been discriminated against. And, his whole life he had been discriminated against. So, I think, for Dad, it was just a victory that he could be a part of. He could not have been more proud. It was a great day.
You can listen to the full audio here.
Since 2003, tens of thousands of everyday people have shared their life experiences in a StoryCorps recording session. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and at storycorps.org. Since its start-up, StoryCorps has:
- Recorded more than 45,000 interviews with nearly 90,000 people nationwide.
- Visited all 50 states and hundreds of cities with our traveling MobileBooth, StoryKit Program, and Door-to-Door Service.
- Created the National Day of Listening to encourage people to record and preserve interviews with loved ones during the holiday season using our free Do-It-Yourself Recording Guide at nationaldayoflistening.org.
- Received a Peabody Award, the highest honor in broadcast journalism.