1915 - 2012
by Denny Meyer
Gus Archilla and his WWII veteran
lover, Elmer Lokkins, were together for 67 years.
They met after the end of World War II, on September
16th, 1945, in Columbus Circle in New York City.
Total strangers, they'd each paused, in a crowd of
people, to hear soapbox speakers at the southwest corner
of Central Park. Their eyes met and enduring love
ensued, history unfolded, and time flew. In 2003,
they went to Canada with a clan of relatives and got
I first met them in late spring in
2007 at the LGBT Community Center in New York City at
some event there. A speaker introduced them and
mentioned that Elmer was a WWII vet. That got my
attention; I went over and asked if I could interview
them. You couldn't meet two sweeter men, more in
love, with sharper memories of their long life together.
As they grew into their 90s, they moved from NYC to
Florida where they have been lovingly cared for by Gus'
relatives. In late November, just shy of his 97th
birthday, Gus passed away, a hero of our time and our
history, a gentle exemplar of our kind of love, and a
man we shall long remember as we progress into the
freedom which he and Elmer pioneered.
Their story at
is a love story, a story of one gay
American patriot's service in the Pacific in World War
II, and a saga of gay history.
Lifetime activists, they became
beloved members of
American Veterans For Equal Rights,
the LGBT veteran's service organization. Danny
Ingram, AVER's national President, wrote, in part:
"American Veterans for
Equal Rights gives thanks for the remarkable life of
our most senior member, Gustavo "Gus" Archilla,
who has passed away at the age of 96."
"An AVER delegation from Fort Lauderdale's Gold
Coast Chapter presented a certificate of Life
Membership to the couple at their home on Marco
Island on April 23rd, 2011."
"Thank you Gus and Elmer for your many years of
inspiration and hard work. Wind to Your Wings,
Gus' loving, affirming, family wrote, in part, the
Archilla, 96, passed
away peacefully Tuesday,
November 27, 2012 at his
home in Marco Island,
Florida, just ten days
short of his 97th
birthday. Gus was born
to Gustavo Edmundo and
Maria Ildefonsa Estrada
on December 7, 1915 in
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
and his eight brothers
and sisters lost their
parents early, before
adulthood. Gus, being
the oldest, became the
head of the family,
helping to rear his
younger siblings. In
September of 1945, he
met Elmer Lokkins, his
spouse and loving
partner with whom he
spent a happy and
rewarding life of over
is survived by his
spouse, Elmer Lokkins,
brother, Eliel Archilla,
31 nieces and nephews, a
growing number of grand
nieces and grand nephews
(all too numerous to
name), and hundreds of
dear friends throughout
the world. Gus was
preceded in death by his
parents, sisters, Idalia,
Emmy and Loyda, and
brothers, Abidam, Ruben,
Nathaniel and Efraim.
will be no funeral
services held, as per
Gus’s wishes. In lieu of
flowers, donations may
be made to Marriage
Equality USA, the
Foundation for PSP or
Foundation of America in
memory of Gus."
every generation there are a few heroes who stand out,
by their actions and by their love. Gus Archilla,
along with his partner Elmer, stood out heroically
across the generations of our modern history. He
lived his life in pride and courage. We can do no
better than to follow his example.
is an honor to salute your memory, dear friend.
Meyer, SFC USAR
© 2013 Gay Military Signal