Exhibit at Brooklyn Heights luxury seniors’ home highlights history, struggles of gay seniors

The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights, a new luxury independent living facility for seniors on Clark Street, is premiering a national exhibit, “Not Another Second,” about the history of 12 LBGT seniors who represent a wide range of diverse backgrounds, professions and ethnicities.

The exhibit is a collaboration between Watermark Retirement Communities, the parent institution of The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights, and SAGE, a New York-headquartered organization dedicating to helping and supporting older LGBTQ+ people.

For LGBTQ++ seniors, coming out as gay or lesbian was infinitely more difficult than it is today. The seniors who the exhibit profiles come from a wide range of life experiences. They include a former politician, military veterans, a Stonewall survivor and a former Black Panther.

These stories are told through a series of compelling portraits that intersect personal experiences of living during a time when being an LGBTQ++ individual was a crime. The exhibition, shot by German photographer Karsten Thormaehlen, known for his award-winning series “Happy at 100” focusing on centenarians from around the world, also celebrates their personal journeys on deciding to live openly.

“In the ’80s and ’90s, everybody was scared to death to come out. They didn’t know who to trust,” said Richard Prescott, who is featured in the Not Another Second exhibition alongside his husband. “I think I lost a lot of years not being myself. That’s why this campaign is so important. Not only do we get to share our stories but give courage to younger generations who are still scared of being their authentic self.”

Curated and installed by nAscent Art, the exhibition features state-of-the-art Augmented Reality (AR) technology through Kaleida Studio. “AR allows patrons to experience the emotionally-driven stories of each LGBTQ++ senior in a new, interactive way, adding a whole new dimension to the already moving photography” said Jennifer Wallace, co-founder of nAscent Art.

The exhibit will begin with a socially distanced, appointment-only media preview on Jan. 12, with additional private previews every day Wednesday, Jan. 13 through Saturday, Jan. 16.

The portraits will also be displayed on notanothersecond.com and in a printed, hard-cover book, which includes more than 100 photos of the featured LGBTQ++ seniors and expands on their individual stories. The interactive website will also feature a short documentary, as well as invite young people to submit questions and receive advice from LGBTQ++ elders through an “Ask A Senior” program.

The exhibition by SAGE and Watermark Retirement Communities was designed to acknowledge the hardships, contributions and ongoing challenges of three million LGBTQ++ elders currently living in the United States. It was inspired by Watermark’s commitment to be the first nationwide senior living management company to obtain the SAGECare platinum accreditation for its 60+ retirement communities coast to coast.

“Not Another Second is a beautiful example of Watermark’s commitment to honor the lives and histories of LGBTQ+ elders who refuse to be invisible. Over the span of decades, LGBTQ+ elders have proven what it means to be resilient and live vibrant and full lives, even in the face of discrimination,” said Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE. “Too often, the achievements of LGBTQ+ pioneers are pushed aside or hidden back in the closet as they get older.”

Completed in the fall of 2020, The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights is New York City’s first new luxury retirement community to open in 20 years. The building, originally the Leverich Towers Hotel, was once famous as the pre-game home of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ top players and their families in the 1930s and 1940s. The architectural studio of Montroy DeMarco Architecture and interior designer Lemay+Escobar Architecture developed the design for the new community.

This article was originally published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on January 6, 2021