It was a love story that remained hidden for over over seven decades, till a man’s grandson discovered it years after his death. 

US-based independent filmmaker and podcaster Samaan Ashrawi shared the most incredible gay love story for pride month on social media – that of his late grandfather. The post, that quickly raked up over 300,000 likes in four days, started with a secret that Ashrawi’s grandfather Dave Fisher shared with him. 

Advertisement
“My Grandpa Dave told me he was sure he was gay when he was moving into his dorm room freshman year of college and there was a boy “with the prettiest eyes”,” Ashrawi posted in a thread on Twitter. 

Grandpa And This Guy Were In Love

The podcaster learnt about the identity of the man, after his grandfather’s death and so began an amazing journey of research and discovery. “After Grandpa passed, I learned from my mother who that boy was. His name was John Kander”. 

For those who may not instantly recognise the name, his work may offer some clue. American composer Kander and his songwriting partner lyricist Fred Enn, wrote the scores for over 15 Broadway musicals, including Chicago and Cabaret.

Advertisement
The duo are best known for writing the theme song for the 1977 Martin Scrocese movie New York, New York. The song was originally sung by and picturised on gay icon Liza Minelli, before Frank Sinatra immortalised it. 

The Bookcase And A Song

The story continued when Ashrawi made another discovery during the pandemic. “I always thought that was so cool, that grandpa and this guy Kander were in love, but during the pandemic I noticed something on a bookcase.”

Ashrawi said he had walked past the bookcase over a dozen times a day over the years. “Why had I never noticed this 7” vinyl poking out of one of the shelves? I pulled it out. It was a custom pressing and written in pencil was: “Our Boy,” the year, “1951,” and the composer’s name: ‘John Kander’.”

Ashrawi’s mother told him that it was a song that John had written for his grandfather. “I put the record on and listened… some very moody piano solos, it sounded theatrical. I needed to know more.  I went online, was John even still alive?  To my amazement, the answer was yes! 94 years old.” 

Advertisement
Ashrawi then did something incredible, he tried to reach out to John. “I already knew I wouldn’t be able to find an email for John so I got in touch with a relative of his and a few days later I had an email from the man himself.”

Our Boy

Dave Fisher (left)

The email had more details about what Ashrawi thought was just a song written for his grandfather. “He (John) told me the record we have isn’t just a song, it’s a whole entire one-act musical called ‘Our Boy’ that he wrote at the age of 22; and not only that, he wanted my grandfather to be the lead It was a play about a boxer grappling with the existential feelings of defeat.”

John then sent Ashrawi some photos of his grandfather from the past that the family had never seen before. “There was my grandpa, Dave Fisher, in his shiny boxing shorts, looking young and curious and serious all at once. How incredible.”

The story had a sweet ending when Ashrawi and his family met John in New York and shared happy memories of his grandfather. 

“In New York just recently, my family (minus one sister) went to meet up with John, now 95, in person. My mother hadn’t seen him since she was a child,” said Ashrawi. 

“Over lunch (and an Arnold Palmer) John opened up about their relationship. “We were honest with each other,” John told us. “Not in terms of not lying, but honest about who we were and who we were becoming. [Your grandfather] was a great gift to me.” The End! (for now)”,  Ashrawi concluded.

The podcaster, in response to one social media user, emphasised why such stories were important for the LGBTQI community. “Whether we share it publicly or not, preserving the stories and memories of our family and friends (and especially elders) is some of the most vital work we can do in our lives and is wholly rewarding on its own.”



© Star Observer 2022 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.