By Dave Carlin

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A new exhibition in Brooklyn called “Not Another Second” tells the coming out stories of a dozen LGBT+ senior citizens.

CBS2’s Dave Carlin reports how it is spreading of acceptance that starts with being true to yourself.

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On display are portraits: Feisty, fearless, joyful. But pain is their life stories – all 12 of them.

Visitors use their own devices or ones made available by this exhibition to view videos.

Pearl Bennett is 69 and transgender. A life with much unhappiness in the city, but she would escape to a happy place.

“I felt so free out on Fire Island,” Bennett said. “This one day… it was like I couldn’t take off that dress.”

When 82-year-old Ray Cunningham was a young man, he says his life in the military made him fearful and ashamed.

“My job was to give people who were gay discharges … because they weren’t fit for service,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham met Richard Prescott and they came out in their fifties.

“I think I lost a lot of years not being myself,” Prescott said.

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The show is at Watermark at Brooklyn Heights, a luxury community for seniors, in partnership with SAGE, an advocacy group.

Admission is free. No more than ten advance ticket holders are let in at a time.

A book is being sold and all the proceeds from the exhibition are being donated to programs that help LGBT+ youth.

“Younger people need to know the struggles that were fought so they could have the freedoms that they have,” one person said.

“Collectively they say, ‘Be yourself, be who you are and be proud of it,'” said Rocco Bertini, executive director of the Watermark at Brooklyn Heights.

The exhibition reminds everyone time is precious – don’t waste any of it not being yourself.

The exhibit runs through March 27, then goes on a national tour which will include stops in Los Angeles and Tucson.

Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality a mental disorder. Gay marriage was not legalized nationwide until 2015.

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Dave Carlin