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Exploring the lives of elder gay men Köth, Christopher A. R.

Abstract

This study explores the experience of growing older as a gay man. In an attempt to contribute to the gerontological social work literature, three gay men over the age of 65 participated in semi-structured interviews lasting from one to two hours in duration, in pursuit of an answer to the question 'How has being gay informed the lives of men 65 years of age and over’? Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a narrative approach to analysis in order to expand upon the mostly quantitative knowledge concerning sexual minority aging. The findings of this study allow social workers, gerontologists, and gay men themselves to better understand the strengths and challenges that accompany the elder gay male experience of aging in our society. Principally was the finding that a gay sexual identity versus age itself is a more prominent feature of experience among the three elder gay men interviewed. The ideology of heterosexism and ageism intersects in the life experiences of elder gay men, as evidenced through the stories contained in this study. Further, it was found that the concept of developmental milestones is different from the perspective of elder gay men than has been acknowledged in the gerontological literature. Finally, implications for social workers who strive for a practice that can be more inclusive of gay men are provided.

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