World War II veteran George Montague describes himself as “the oldest gay in the village” — but he’s also the oldest married gay in the village.
The 96-year-old, who wedded his now-50-year-old partner in 2015, is living openly and proudly after decades in the closet.
Montague was born in 1923 and waited until he was nearly 60 to come out. It wasn’t until after his mother passed away that he was ready to declare himself gay.
Married to a woman named Vera for decades, Montague had three children. But when he met a man named Somchai Phukkhlai in London in 1997, Vera told him that after 21 years together, she was ready to part ways.
“My ex-wife, Vera, knew I was gay before we married but she said she would rather have a gay man than no man at all,” Montague told The Mirrror. “I played the part and had three beautiful children with Vera, but nobody else knew anything about how I really felt."
Montague and his partner obtained a civil union in 2006, and spent years campaigning for equal rights. “I’ll campaign for as long as I live, I love my life, I love who I am and I love my wonderful husband,” he said.
Montague made British headlines several years ago during a debate about pardoning men who were arrested for homosexuality when it was still a crime. Montague was arrested in the 1970s and lost his job. He told the BBC that he wanted an apology, not a pardon, and a year later the Home Office sent him a written apology.
Montague plans to make it to the 100-year mark, and to celebrate being gay for the rest of his life. “I tell everyone I meet that I’m gay, I want everyone to know,” he said. “When you spend so much of life hiding who you are and finally open yourself up it becomes addictive.”