Dick Titus and Zeek Taylor met in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971. Zeek was openly gay having already come out to his friends and family, but Dick was still in the closet with the added burden of having his family living close by.
In order for the two of them to be together, they decided to leave Memphis and move to Fayetteville, Arkansas, a city that would put some distance between Dick and his family, and where he knew he could find work as an electrician. But when they got there, Dick was convinced that he would have to continue to remain closeted after encountering homophobia on job sites, leading him to believe that he would lose work if anyone discovered that he was gay.
In order to protect Dick (pictured on the right), they decided to buy two homes—one to live in together and another to use as a dummy house for Dick in case any of his fellow workers wanted to come by at the end of the day. They also established a code in case they ran into any of the people Dick worked with while they were out together. Dick’s colleagues called him “Oscar,” so when they were in public and heard someone use the name, Zeek (pictured on the left) would pretend that they did not know each other.
Today, Dick is out to his friends and family. They came to StoryCorps to recall their journey from owners of multiple homes for 13 years, to married owners of a single home together in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Originally aired March 4, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.