StoryCorps: A First And Lasting Love, Long Before The World Would Let It Live In her 20s, Glenda Elliott fell in love with a woman, well before the modern gay rights movement. Now 75, Elliott looks back on a shared love that couldn't be — and that she's cherished all her life.
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A First And Lasting Love, Long Before The World Would Let It Live

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A First And Lasting Love, Long Before The World Would Let It Live

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's Friday, which means we check in with StoryCorps. Today, an interview from the StoryCorps OutLoud initiative. It's an effort to collect conversations from the LGBT community, especially untold stories from the generation that lived before the beginning of the modern-day rights movement. Glenda Elliott grew up in Mayfield, Ga. She is 75 now and first fell in love in her 20s. She sat down with a friend to tell the story of this lifelong love that never had a chance to blossom.

GLENDA ELLIOTT: Lauree knew how to tease me without my being offended. And there was something about the way she would smile that, you know, I can still see very vividly. She was the first person I really truly loved. But I grew up in the '40s in a small, rural community. There were certainly no role models of what it means to love someone of the same sex. So I didn't know how to understand that. My high school sweetheart, he proposed to me. And I thought at that time that's what a woman did. She got married. And it didn't take me very long to realize that I had made a mistake. So he and I decided to get a divorce. During all of this time, Lauree and I had stayed in touch. I knew that I loved her deeply. She said, well, I have very strong feelings for you too, but most of all, I want to have children. She met a man who had asked her to marry him. Then she got pregnant. And she said, if it's a little girl, I'm going to name her after you. Well, it turned out it was a little boy. And I was relieved. It really would have been excruciatingly painful if she had had a little girl named after me. Somewhere along the way, she said, if I outlive my husband and you don't have a partner, perhaps we can grow old together. And somehow, that made it all right. But then, Lauree got cancer. And she didn't live very long. And I did not get to see her again. It didn't hit me so much until I turned 60, and I began to really think about old age. And this was the time that Lauree and I were going to have. And it didn't happen. There are certain kinds of love that never die. But I don't regret at all our time together. It is where I learned that I could love, and I could be loved in that complete sense of the word.

MONTAGNE: Glenda Elliott with her friend Angela Stowe in Birmingham, Ala. Glenda is retired from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she was an associate professor and also cofounded Alabama's Association for LGBT Issues in Counseling. This interview will be archived at the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress. You can hear more on the StoryCorps podcast. Get it on iTunes and at npr.org.

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