When Gerard "Jerry" Nadeau, 72, and John Banvard, 100, moved into a veterans' home in Chula Vista, California, back in 2010, people there were curious about what kind of relationship they had. They shared their story in a segment on NPR's Morning Edition as part of StoryCorps, which allows people to interview their friends. Jerry and John interviewed each other about their love story.
"Well, when we got married, they knew what our relationship was," Jerry said, laughing. They married in 2013, and the small celebration was casual, to say the least; hot dogs were served for the main course. As John said, it "was hardly wedding food."
"We'd gotten married at the veterans home, and we said, 'If you came to see the bride, you're out of luck.' Do you remember that?" Jerry asked John.
"Yes, of course," John said. He thought there would be more pushback when people realized the nature of their union, but he was pleasantly surprised. "I was expecting we'd be ridiculed, and there was very little of that," he said. Jerry remembered one moment in particular: "I was with you in the cafeteria, and somebody came up with their family, and they said, 'This is Gerard Nadeau, and this is his husband, John,'" he said. "I'd never heard that before."
Before they met, both of them served in the military: John fought in World War II, and Jerry fought in Vietnam. Their love story goes back to 1993, at a time when neither of them were openly gay. "When we met, we were sort of in the closet, and I'd never had a real relationship. Now we've been together almost 25 years," Jerry said. He then asked John, "What would it have been like if you didn't meet me?"
"I would have continued being lonely," John said. "I'd been absolutely lost."
After recounting a few anecdotes, the pair reflected on their nearly-25-year love story together. "You've made my life complete," Jerry told John.
"I could say the same to you," John replied. "I think we're probably as happy together as any two people you're likely to meet."