81-year-old recalls life in Raleigh as a gay man in new book about elder members of LGBTQ+ community

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TARBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – The struggle and life as a gay man in Raleigh is now out for the world to see in the form of a book that tells the story of 12 elder members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Ronnie Ellis, 81, shares his own recollections in Not Another Second, and they’re a haunting reminder. He expressed those thoughts in a video promoting the publication.

“At least 25 years ago when I realized I was gay and could come out, I still had that stigma it was wrong. I had a friend who committed suicide because he was gay, and back when we were growing up you had to marry or your were gay,” Ellis said.

Gays and lesbians can now marry their same-sex partner and serve openly in the military. But, as Ellis finds himself at book signings that celebrates the past and how far the world has come, he knows it is still a struggle for many.

Ellis offered advice from his home in Tarboro at The Fountains at the Albemarle.

“Just be themselves and accept what they are, and I’m sure it’s hard,” he said

As for those who could turn away, he said there are plenty who won’t.

“If they’re going to drop you as a friend because you’re gay, that’s fine. They’re going to be two or three gays that come in and take their place,” Ellis said.

Ellis also found love for 44 years until his partner Earl passed away. He described the way they met.

“Earl came into the house and I looked at him and he had on a white dress shirt, it’s summertime, and brown khaki pants. And at that time, when I looked at him I thought you are a knockout and I told God if you’ll let me have him I’ll never want anybody else,” Ellis said.

The couple played a key role in preserving Historic Oakwood, including the purchase of a Victorian steamboat gothic cottage in 1972.

Now so many years later he asks that it just be easier for everyone.

“Hopefully these young people will have a much easier road to hope,” he said.

Not Another Second is a project of SAGE and Watermark Retirement Communities.

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