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Richard and I were in a committed relationship for 50 years but never able to have our relationship recognized. We didn't enjoy the automatic right to visit one another in a hospital, to make health care choices for one another, we didn't have the option of having children, our jobs were not protected, nor were our homes. Most of my life was a secret. I don't want anyone else to live in fear.

Richard and I met in 1956, when relationships like ours were forbidden by law and punishable in many if not most states.

What advice would you have for someone who wants to be supportive of their gay neighbors?

Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so. Speak out for equality under the law whenever you can, you'll be proud of yourself if you do.

Richard and I were together for 50 years, yet I cannot collect his social security benefits. My employment status was never protected. I have always had to be careful about my neighbors knowing if I were gay or not. I am tired of living in fear.

When I look at countries like England, France, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands and Mexico it seems that the LGBT communities there are full fledged citizens, with equal rights.  I wish the same for my fellow Americans to live their lives in peace.

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