Portrait Campaign Celebrates New York City’s LGBTQ Seniors

6-NAS Exhibition 20201218
The exhibit will feature photographs, quotes, and history.

The stories of queer elders are often hidden in mainstream media, but a new portrait campaign is looking to bring these histories to light.

Debuting to the public at the Watermark at Brooklyn Heights on January 19, “Not Another Second” reveals the stories, contributions, and ongoing challenges facing queer seniors. The portraits feature a former politician, military veterans, a Stonewall survivor, and a Black Panther, among others. The art show hopes to inspire younger generations of queer people who are still exploring their identity.

The campaign is a collaborative effort between Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders, or SAGE, and the senior living centers known as Watermark Retirement Communities and the Watermark at Brooklyn Heights.

Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, said these images will showcase LGBTQ elders who are kept in the dark.

“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,” Adams said in a written statement. “Too often, the achievements of LGBTQ pioneers are pushed aside or hidden back in the closet as they get older.”

Ray and Richard share a moment together.nAscent

Due to either rampant discrimination or fear, the exhibit notes that seniors have lost a whopping 400 or more years not being their true selves. These numbers are located alongside the portraits.
German photographer Karsten Thormaehlen — who is known for shooting aging populations — shot the exhibit before the pandemic hit. His award-winning series, “Happy at 100,” focused on the personal journeys of centenarians.

Richard Prescott, a Navy veteran, is featured in the exhibit alongside his husband, Ray Cunningham.

“In the ’80s and ’90s, everybody was scared to death to come out. They didn’t know who to trust,” Prescott said in a written statement. “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.”

Free, socially distanced viewings can be scheduled on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from January 19th through March 2021 at The Watermark at Brooklyn Heights at 21 Clark Street. Reservations are available on the project’s site.

Visitors can also experience the exhibit virtually as well as through Augmented Reality or AR. Curators at nAscent installed the project. The art show plans to tour the country with stops in Los Angeles; Napa, California; and Tucson, Arizona.

To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter.