Raised in Norwalk, Conn., Gregory demonstrated a love of drawing and art early on. During high school, his parents arranged for him to take lessons with Harry Townsend, an artist famous for his battlefield illustrations of World War I. But Gregory’s father cautioned him that most artists couldn’t make enough to support themselves. As soon as he turned 18, Paul enlisted in the Navy. Three years later, with World War II over, he took advantage of the GI bill and graduated from Yale in 1950.
Eager to explore the world, he soon moved to New York City and began working in advertising. It was there hanging out in saloons like the famous P.J. Clarke’s where he met another young man who helped him with coming out. A few years later and still filled with wanderlust, the two of them were off to the West Coast and ended up in San Francisco, Calif. around 1954. There keeping a low profile in the style of the times, Gregory started referring to himself as a “bachelor,” a euphemism for being a gay man—usually accompanied by a wink and gleam in his eyes.
As things will happen, both he and his first friend got involved with other men. Gregory met a handsome guy who lived down the coast near Carmel, Calif. In Carmel, he went back to school for a year to get accredited as a teacher and taught school for nearly the next decade before his wanderlust overtook him and his partner and they went off to Europe. With a shared desire to see the world, they managed to finesse a long stay first in England and later in Spain’s Costa del Sol. But when fate intervened, Gregory returned to the US to become a caregiver for his ill mother at their family home for the next ten years. Later retired and living in coastal Connecticut in the 1980s, his interest in the arts resurfaced and he took courses in painting at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts and became a docent at the Florence Griswold Museum, which is renowned for its American impressionist art.
Ready for a change from New England, Gregory found himself captivated with Maryland and moved to Baltimore around in the mid-1990’s. He took advantage of the Prime Timers, a local social club for senior gay and bisexual men, to make a few new friends. He also started attending St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, an early leader in the “Reconciling in Christ” movement, which makes a point of welcoming gay and lesbian parishioners.
These days, in addition to his gardening, Gregory actively paints with his easel carefully positioned in front of a north-facing window. In fact, there are about a 100 wonderful oil portraits and landscapes scattered around the house, which only a very few friends have ever seen. No longer driving, Gregory has a friend who helps him with the house, takes him grocery shopping and to doctor appointments as well as weekend “eat outs” and drives in the countryside. Amazingly, he has also just in the past three years learned how to use a PC and takes advantage of the internet to stay in touch with the world. Seeing him flirt with a waiter or eye someone across the room, it’s clear though that being 87 years old hasn’t gotten in the way of appreciating a good looking man!