Ageism with Heterosexism: Self-Perceptions, Identity, and Psychological Health in Older Gay and Lesbian Adults

By Meisner, Brad A.; Hynie, Michaela | Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, January 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

Ageism with Heterosexism: Self-Perceptions, Identity, and Psychological Health in Older Gay and Lesbian Adults


Meisner, Brad A., Hynie, Michaela, Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review


Abstract

The proportion of older adults in the population is increasing. Accompanying this demographic trend is a growing interest in the antecedents of optimal ageing; however, there is a paucity of research investigating how the ageing process differs as a function of sexual orientation. It has been suggested that compared to heterosexual older adults, gay and lesbian older individuals may be at an increased risk for psychological maladjustment to ageing due to the combined effects of ageism with heterosexism. The purpose of this review is to critically appraise the literature on homosexual orientation, internalised homonegativity, ageing adjustment, and psychological well-being in later life. Published findings to date suggest important differences in psychological adaptation to ageing between and within gay and lesbian groups; in fact, two themes emerged from the literature; 1) crisis competence (the experience of one form of discrimination facilitates coping with another) and 2) accelerated ageing (the negative outcome of experiencing multiple forms of discrimination). These phenomena appear to be moderated by sexual orientation and gender. Some current theoretical and methodological limitations in the field are considered in an attempt to support future research.

Keywords: ageism, heterosexism, accelerated ageing, crisis competence

Introduction

There are an increasing number of older adults in industrialised populations. This trend is primarily due to the ageing generation of 'baby boomers'; however, it is also associated with longer life expectancies, with figures indicating an increase in longevity of approximately three months per year (Oeppen & Vaupel, 2002). Accompanying this demographic trend has been an increased interest in the nature and predictors of well-being in the ageing process, with a particular focus upon the antecedents of optimal psychological health and well-being.

Amid ageing studies, however, there is a shortage of research that investigates the psychology of ageing in older homosexual individuals. A search of the PsycINFO database revealed that across all domains of psychology a total of 86,456 peer reviewed publications relate to either 'ageing', 'aging', 'elder', 'elderly', or 'older'; however, only 575 of these papers (0.7%) included key words such as 'homosexuality', 'homosexual', 'gay', or 'lesbian'. As a result of this relative dearth of research, scholarly journals such as the Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review (2006) and Developmental Psychology (2008) have recently published special issues that reiterate the need for knowledge on how sexual orientation influences human development throughout the life course, with a specific focus on the experiences of homosexual individuals.

A considerable challenge for any gay or lesbian individual is to develop, and foster, positive self-regard living as a homosexual within a largely homophobic society in which institutionalised and societal heterosexism continues to exist (Morrow, 2001). Over time, not only do older homosexual people likely encounter ongoing discrimination associated with their sexual orientation, they may also endure ageism that manifests itself via stereotyping, prejudice, and blatant discrimination. Moreover, there is some research suggesting that age discrimination is more prevalent in gay communities (Fox, 2007).

Prevailing negative age stereotypes are detrimental for our elders, as negative attitudes toward older adults affect their psychological well-being. Garstka, Schmitt, Branscombe, and Hummert (2004) found that older individuals (presumably heterosexual) who perceived age discrimination experienced lower reports of self-esteem and life satisfaction compared to those who did not perceive ageism. However, ageing homosexuals may face even greater amounts of ageism than heterosexuals, and age-based prejudice in combination with sexuality-based prejudice may result in an even greater decline in psychological health in older gay and lesbian individuals compared to heterosexuals. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ageism with Heterosexism: Self-Perceptions, Identity, and Psychological Health in Older Gay and Lesbian Adults
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.