Identity categories can be slippery things—rife with exception and contradiction, brimming with potential for fissure and debate. A turbulent politics adheres as well to the question of identity and brings with it significant social and legal implications, as well as a potentially endless slew of often polarizing theoretical considerations.

In the case of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults, however, the issues that come along with group identity are often entirely concrete, and the concerns that face the population are immediate and frequently severe. Individuals who fall into this overlapping pair of categories not only confront a dual set of obstructions and prejudices but also experience what Nancy Knauer in her comprehensive and emphatic treatment of the legal and cultural implications of LGBT aging, Gay and Lesbian Elders: History, Law, and Identity Politics in the United States, describes as a sort of double veiling: “Today, a complex interplay of ageism and homophobia … obscures the identities of gay and lesbian elders and keeps their concerns securely removed from public view. Stereotypical ageist and homophobic constructions work in tandem to make the very notion of gay and lesbian elder impossible because seniors are not sexual and homosexuals are, by definition, only sexual. Under this reasoning, a senior cannot also be a homosexual nor can a homosexual also be a senior” (p. 55). The older members of the LGBT community are, then, serially ignored—left out of a mainstream discourse of LGBT issues that tends to focus primarily on individuals from youth to middle age and routinely overlooked by aging service providers who often fail to consider the particular needs and critical problems specific to their LGBT constituents. The implications of the cloak of invisibility cast over LGBT older people are manifold, and today this group can easily be counted as one of the most critically underserved and at-risk populations in the United States.


Lien vers the gerontologist

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