LGBTQ seniors share their stories in 'Not Another Second'

BROOKLYN, New York (WABC) -- "Not Another Second" is a collection of photos and videos that tell the story of people who stayed in the closet, some for many decades.

"I didn't publicly acknowledge I was gay until I ran for Congress," one participant said.

"I think I lost a lot of years," another added.

"Not Another Second" will travel the country. Its first stop is at the Watermark Senior Residence in Brooklyn Heights. Watermark partnered with the LBGT senior advocacy group SAGE on this campaign.

SAGE is where Pat Thomas-Martin and Paulette Martin met five years ago, and they were honored to share their story.

"This was an opportunity for those who are coming behind us to understand some of the challenges that us LGBTQ seniors went through," Pat said.

Pat lived her truth immediately after graduating from high school.

"I handed my diploma to my grandmother, kiss them both, went in the bathroom changed into my suit, and never wore another dress or skirt again," she said.

But, Paulette had children and married a man first, before coming out at age 40.

"You have to be true to long as your heart is true," Paulette said.

Each story is heartbreaking and moving.

"They paved the way for us, the new generation, they fought for our rights that allows up to be so free and open about our sexuality," said Jan, a visitor.

"I learned something today about lost years, I didn't know that was a thing," said Dannell, a visitor.

"Collectively there are 485 years of all the participants, of all the lost years of these participants living in the closet," said Rocco Bertini, Executive Director, Watermark Brooklyn Heights.

"Once I came out there was no going back," a participant said.

The Martins, who will be married three years this March, hope those struggling seek out support.

"Have a conversation with a senior because they have a lot of experiences, and they can help young people also still in the closet, along with the seniors," Paulette said.

"Not Another Second" is inspiring others to take control of their own story, their own life.

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