If you live for 80 years, Chuck Bennett told me, you see things you never imagined. Crazy, fantastical stuff.
A man on the moon. “Amazing,” he said.
The Soviet Union’s disintegration. “Also amazing.”
And on Nov. 6, if the polls are right and his hope is fulfilled, the people of Maine may pass a referendum for same-sex marriage, which no state has adopted by popular vote before.
“That’s equally amazing to me,” he said. Ten minutes later, he circled back to say it again. “I would like to reiterate how amazing it is.”
Bennett was born in 1932 and grew up in Brooklyn without anything but slurs and clinical terms to describe his attraction to other men. In the late 1950s, he was forced out of the Navy for being gay.
He never found a long-term romantic partner, thwarted in part by a disapproving society with no obvious role models for him, and he bought his dream house on the ocean here 15 years ago with two close friends, because he didn’t want to grow old alone and didn’t expect to meet anyone special, not so late in the game.
“You know that old saying, Born 50 years too soon?” he asked me. “I think I do feel something of that.”