By Jeffrey Perri, StoryCorps participant

Having a role model means everything to a kid coming out of the closet. When it was my turn, I had a unique role model: my grandfather, Tony Perri. Though he’d cared for my Grandma Shirley and loved being a dad, Papa came out to his family not long after the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the nation’s first Pride Parade in 1970. His coming out was an incredibly brave act.

Today, I like to tell people how Papa and his decision to, as he says, “live honestly,” paved the way for me and other queer kids. Thanks to StoryCorps, his journey and mine are now archived in the Library of Congress, a snapshot of history that others will be able to access for generations.  

Listen to our conversation here.

The experience of telling our story together in 2009—at Pride, no less!—was warm and meaningful, but the response we’ve received has been truly incredible. People across the country have left comments and sent emails, telling both of us how our story resonated with them. When StoryCorps chose to animate it earlier this year, the video brought our story to life for a whole new audience, long after we thought it was “done.”

Stories matter, and so does passing them down from one generation to the next. The unique slices of life that StoryCorps preserves and shares come from raw and real places, with lessons for all of us, and there’s nowhere else that offers such a broad, beautiful collection of experiences.

Help StoryCorps make this work possible by making a gift today.

Your support makes it possible for StoryCorps, an independently funded nonprofit, to collect, archive, and share the stories of people from all backgrounds because everyone’s stories deserve to be heard.