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AVER Honors Gay WWII Veteran
and Spouse, Together 65 Years

by Danny Ingram
President, American Veterans For Equal Rights

American Veterans for Equal Rights has awarded Life Membership to longtime gay activists Gustavo Archilla, 96, and Elmer Lokkins, 92, who met in New York's Central Park in September, 1945, and have lived together ever since. A delegation from Fort Lauderdale's Gold Coast AVER Chapter presented the certificate of Life Membership to the couple at their Florida home  on April 23rd. The couple "eloped" to Niagara Falls, Canada, and were married on November 12, 2003. Gus and Elmer were among 1000 participants who marched for gay marriage in Manhattan in 2007.

Elmer Lokkins was drafted into the US Army in 1941 at the age of 21. For his service in the South Pacific during World War II Tech Sergeant Elmer Lokkins was awarded a Distinguished Unit Badge, an Asiatic Pacific Theater Medal with Two Bronze Battle Stars, a Philippine Liberation Medal with One Bronze Battle Star, and a Good Conduct Medal. He was Honorably discharged in the summer of 1945, just before visiting New York City where he and Gus met.

Gustavo "Gus" Archilla was the first member of his Puerto Rican family born under US occupation of the former Spanish colony. Gustavo's father, a Presbyterian minister, was the "last Spaniard" of the family. Later the family moved to New York where Gus, following the tragic death of his parents in the 1930's, became "Uncle Gus" the head of a large family of 8 brothers and sisters, who would later accept "Uncle Elmer" as an honored member the family.

American Veterans for Equal Rights is honored to count these two distinguished pioneers as members of the AVER family.
Editor's note: See the full story  of Elmer Lokkins' WWII service and Gus and Elmer's love and life together at: http://www.gaymilitarysignal.com/070731Lokkins.html

  2011 Gay Military Signal