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Sexuality Research & Social Policy

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 1–23 | Cite as

Social support in the lives of lesbians and gay men at midlife and later

  • Judith C. Barker
  • Gilbert Herdt
  • Brian de Vries
Article

Abstract

A large body of medical and academic literature has established the connection between strong social support and vigorous physical and mental health in aging populations. Largely unexamined to date, however, are the meanings and processes through which lesbians and gay men come to perceive, develop, maintain, and mobilize social support in midlife and later. The midlife cohort currently in this population stands to be the first group of homosexuals who will openly disclose their sexual orientation and their social support needs when they reach later life. Focusing on social support and informal caregiving for aging lesbians and gay men, we look at how the lifelong impact of the social, political, and economic stigma and discrimination, and related historical events, created significant cohort differences. This approach offers insight into similar processes occurring in other groups, such as ethnic minorities, and has implications for gerontological theory, policy, and research in general.

Key words

aging cohort caregiving sexual minority stigma discrimination LCBTQQ 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith C. Barker
    • 1
  • Gilbert Herdt
    • 2
  • Brian de Vries
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, History & Social MedicineUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan Francisco
  2. 2.National Sexuality Resource CenterSan Francisco
  3. 3.Gerontology ProgramsSan Francisco State UniversitySan Francisco

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