Jean K. Quam
University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Generally, in texts that speak to issues of aging, there is little or no mention of old adults who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. In texts that address gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) issues, the focus tends to be on adolescence to middle adulthood with very little attention to old age. Thus, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals who are old are relatively unattended to by service providers and policy makers who know little about their needs. In the past decade there has been a modest increase in research in this area.
The group (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender old adults) is a varied and complex one despite the fact that it also could be argued that as a group they are a narrow, specific slice of the population. To estimate the old GLBT population in the United States is difficult. If one begins by looking at the GLBT population in general, estimates range from as low as 1.4% of women and 2.8% of men ( 1), 4.2% in 1998 based on voter exit data ( 2), to 21 % of men and 18% of women based on homosexual attraction and behavior since age 15 ( 3). The number is reduced based solely on behavior. According to Richard Banin, executive director of Senior Action in a Gay Environment, every year