Editor's note: StoryCorps OutLoud visited KCUR in the summer of 2015 to collect stories from Kansas City's LGBTQ community in partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America. This story originally aired in August 2015. Since then, Bernard Shondell and Brigid Burgett both say they remain good friends. StoryCorps is once again in Kansas City, and KCUR will begin airing new stories recorded here starting Monday, August 20, 2018.
Bernard Shondell and Ann Marie Pikus were best friends in high school. After college they were inseparable and decided to get married. They were married for 10 years and had three kids, then 14 years ago Ann Marie died of cancer. It was after her death, during a car ride with his three-year-old niece that Shondell had a profound realization about his sexuality.
“It was Christmas after Ann had passed away,” recalls Shondell. “And as we were driving around Colleen just blurts out, ‘When are you going to get a new mommy for Joey?’ That really kept me up.”