By Joyce See
A study carried out by a Kingston University lecturer reveals that residential care or care at home is driving older gay people back into the closet.
The study, co-written by sociology lecturer Dr Andrew King, involved detailed interviews with 22 lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals aged 55 and above, over a period of three months and raised significant questions about the way society responds to their needs.
“Older LGBT people grew up in a much more homophobic and transphobic climate than we have now,” said Dr King. “There have been many legal advances in recent years, such as the Civil Partnership Act and Gender Recognition Act, but it’s how all this is actually played out in everyday lives that really counts.”
Some of the key concerns raised by participants in the study were the ability to ‘fit in’ in residential care, homophobia, not being treated with respect by care givers and also worries about having to hide clues to their sexuality.
Commenting on this issue, Kingston LGBT society’s women officers, Melissa Trender said, “I believe that our generation is a lot more aware of the LGBT community. We are no longer seen as separate from society. The very fact that I can hold hands with my girlfriend in the street without it being a political statement is a sign of how far we’ve come. If anything, this acceptance will become even more ingrained in generations to come.”