Gustavo Archilla, an Inspiration for Marriage Equality, Dies at 96

The New York Times
|
December 17, 2012
Issues: 

Gustavo Archilla, whose marriage in Canada in 2003 after almost six decades of a quiet and committed relationship inspired supporters of same-sex marriage, died on Nov. 27 on Marco Island, Fla., where he lived. He was 96. The cause was complications of an aneurysm of the aorta, his niece Christina Dean said. Mr. Archilla was strolling across Columbus Circle in New York in September 1945 when he met Elmer Lokkins. The men fell in love quickly, but not publicly. For 58 years, they lived together in Manhattan at a don’t-ask-don’t-tell distance from the rest of the world — stable and secure in their mutual devotion but expertly practiced at not drawing attention to it, even as they lived for many years in the same house with some of Mr. Archilla’s younger siblings. In time the secret became harder to keep. They were mostly accepted by their families, but their relationship was not openly discussed. “Uncle Gus and Uncle Elmer,” their expanding collection of nieces and nephews called them, with not everyone realizing that the gregarious men who went everywhere together and were happy to take the children to the museum or the park were more than friends.