Celebrating an anniversary that has lasted as long as many people’s lives is some kind of feat. But doing it while having to keep your love a secret for nearly seven decades is a testament to just how strong the bond between Caroline Leto and Venera Magazzu is.
The two women, who live in Davie, celebrate their 70th anniversary today and plan to bring in the monumental accomplishment like any pair of 90-plus-year-old-women would - with the polka.
The forbidden romance started in 1939 at a party in New York. The chance meeting quickly flourished into the women living together a year later as roommates to the outside world, but secretly as lovers. Leto, now 96, told the Sun-Sentinel the couple told people they were just close friends or sisters.
The lesbians kept up the charade for decades – through the women’s rights movement and continuing on into the fight for gay rights - with only the closest of friends knowing of their relationship.
"I think most people had their suspicions, but they didn't really make a big deal about it because it was just two women," 97-year-old Magazzu said. "They didn't ask, and we just didn't talk about it."
The couple didn’t become legal partners until 1996 at a ceremony in New York. They decided to move back to Florida where Magazzu penned a book about the couple’s struggle with love entitled “An Unadulterated Story: Young and Gay at 90.”
To mark their anniversary, the couple plans on throwing a party at Etz Chaim, a gay and lesbian congregation in Wilton Manors.