Aging Out: A Qualitative Exploration of Ageism and Heterosexism Among Aging African American Lesbians and Gay Men

  • Woody I
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Abstract

African Americans elders, like their non-African American counterparts, are not a homogeneous group; however an early characteristic placed on all African Americans is in their shared history in the United States. As members of multiple minority groups, older lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of African descent have survived racism, heterosexism, homophobia, and now ageism. This article describes a qualitative study grounded in Black feminist and minority stress theories that explored the issues of perceived social discrimination and alienation of 15 older African American lesbians and gay males whose lived experiences were captured using in-depth, face-to-face interviews. Several themes were identified in the study, including (a) Sense of Alienation in the African American Community, (b) Deliberate Concealment of Sexual Identity and Orientation, (c) Aversion to LGBT Labels, (d) Perceived Discrimination and Alienation From Organized Religion, (e) Feelings of Grief and Loss Related to Aging, (f) Isolation, and (g) Fear of Financial and Physical Dependence. The implication of the findings suggests that the ethos and needs of older African American lesbian women and gay men need to be addressed to eliminate potential barriers to successful aging for this cohort.

Author-supplied keywords

  • African Americans
  • Ageism
  • Aging
  • Elders
  • Gay Males
  • Heterosexism
  • LGBT
  • LGBT African Americans
  • Lesbians
  • Older Adults
  • Racism
  • Religion

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Authors

  • Imani Woody

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