Family A Source Of Pride For Dayton Couple
John Gantt and Scott Didier have been together for over 20 years and both men have spent that time in service to Dayton's LGBT community. John was the first openly gay man to serve on the city's Human Relations Council. Scott also served on the board of the council, and both of them worked with city leaders to develop Dayton's anti-discrimination ordinance covering sexual orientation and gender identity. John was instrumental in building Dayton's annual pride celebration from an annual sit-down dinner into a weekend series of public events that attract several thousand people each year now. But in this conversation, it's family that's a source of pride.
Scott Didier: John, one of the things that that made you win over my heart was I remember when we first started dating and you told me on one of our first dates, you're like, 'Scott, I've got to tell you something. I've got kids, and my kids are everything, and if you have a problem with that, we might as well not even go on any further.' And I thought to myself, well, one, what kind of a toad would I be if I said 'no,' and that also made me endear to you a little bit more.
John Gantt: Well, I remember after you met my kids and you thought they was pretty cool and you even talked to me one time about maybe we should adopt a kid for ourselves. And I said, 'Well, let's just wait for grandkids.'
SD: Yes. John says, I've already done my duty. You're right. I remember that.
JG: Well, how did you feel about going from literally no family on your side of the family to a huge family on my side family?
SD: A little overwhelming. It was overwhelming. I remember the first Gantt family reunion, I went with you, we walked into the meeting hall and soon as we walked in, I saw so many people, not to mention the fact showing up at your family's function as your gay husband was something I was totally not prepared for in rural Versailles.
JG: Well, I know in your family, your mom kind of knew you were gay but my parents needed one, knew. I waited til after they were both gone before I even came out.
SD: And why is that?
JG: Because they would have felt they failed. They wouldn't have understood
SD: And what about all of your brothers and sisters now?
JG: Oh, they're all accepting now. They said if if dad would of known you was use queer, he would of killed you.
SD: You said your dad was born in the 1800’s. Right?
JG: 1897. You know, I consider ourselves pretty lucky, too, with the way things worked out and all the family living next door to us. How you like that?
SD: I'm very fortunate to have the family that I've been married in to and I've been thankful that they've been so accepting of me. But we also had a lot of changes in our family, too, with a lot of grandchildren being born. And unfortunately, the death of your youngest son, my stepson, who served in the military. How did that affect you as far as the work you were doing with the LGBT center and the involvement in Dayton?
JG: Well, I really can't talk about it yet. It's that bad.
SD: I understand that. I understand that. But, at the same time we have to celebrate the fact that we are lucky enough to be surrounded by a whole group of loving family members and kids and little ones and all of our friends in the gay community and... Laurie and I, a lot of times, we fell into that stereotypical behavior of exes and new spouses, and we were a little catty the first couple years that we knew each other. And, I think she was having some issues dealing with the fact that her ex-husband was gay, too. But since then, I think the fact that I know I respect her so much because she's such a good mom and I think she respects me so much because she knows I have the best interest of her kids and grandkids in mind, too, that we've kind of grown together. I remember that at Kyle's memorial service, during his funeral, Laurie and I were in a...we were in the receiving line next to each other. It was the longest day of our lives for all of us. I know, but Laurie and I embraced each other a number of times and got through that day with each other's help. And I think that set an example for all of our families, too.
Never in my wildest dreams, being a young gay man in Miami County did I ever think that, one I would ever find my prince, but I never thought that I would have the family that I've gotten. And I was lucky and I consider myself blessed all the time that I met you and that it's worked out for us. The fact that we we have similar backgrounds, I think helps a little bit, but also the fact that, you know, you're a kindred spirit, I think. And I always hope to find that one person that I would want to live with forever and die beside and you're it. Sorry.
JG: Well, Scott, I feel the same way, quite a bit, I mean, after I got divorced and came out, I just want to find someone who I can share my life with and you fit the bill. You know, what's the alternatives out there?
John Gantt and Scott Didier say that in the last 20 years, there have been many ups and downs in both family life and in the work they've done for LGBT rights. But it's the shared goals and mutual respect for each other that have kept their relationship strong.