Ruth Berman, 82 and Connie Kurtz, 79 are lovers. Proudly lesbian, proudly out, and proudly demonstrative. They hold hands and kiss in public and don’t care who sees them. These ladies are OUT.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, the two met as neighbors when both were raising children as married heterosexual women. “Who knew from lesbian?” asked Connie. “We were housewives and mothers and we became great friends.”

After Connie’s family moved to Israel she returned to Brooklyn for a visit and realized that she was in love with Ruthie. It turned out that the feeling was mutual and the two women began the process of coming out.

They lived together for 36 years before they could marry which they did in New York in 2011.

“Some people, friends and family members were ok with it,” Ruthie said. “Some couldn’t deal with it. So what? We had our lives to live.”

They have double digits of offspring, some in Israel, some in Brooklyn, some everywhere.

Ruthie was a New York City guidance counselor. Connie was a bookkeeper. As a couple, they won partner benefits from the New York City School District; they created a counseling center to help gay people come out; they appeared on the Phil Donahue show; they starred in a documentary “Ruthie and Connie Every Room in the House;” and most recently, three members of Congress have submitted a bill to protect aging LGBT people and have named it the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act.

Can you get more out than that?

“You have to respect yourself and your relationships,” said Ruthie about coming out. “We’re all entitled to equal treatment if you’re not being treated equally you’re not respecting yourself.”

“Come out. Stay in. Do what you want and what you need to do,” Connie said. “If you’re OK with the pain and being sick that living a lie can bring, have it. But not me.”

– DC