GAY AND GRAY: The Older Homosexual Man by Raymond M. Berger

GAY AND GRAY: The Older Homosexual Man

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An attempt to debunk some popular myths about aging in the gay community via sociological sampling techniques. Berger (Social Work, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) was unable to secure enough questionnaire responses from lesbians and minorities to include them in his findings; 112 white males from local communities did respond, however, and he interviewed ten of them in depth. The ten cases, advantageously presented first, range from the ""southern gentleman"" whose parents died during his childhood (and who discovered, years later, that his own father had been secretly gay) to the man who see-sawed back and forth between his wife of a quarter-century and his ""domineering"" male lover (the latter eventually won out). According to Berger's general findings, the older homosexual is well-adjusted; has a satisfactory sex life (with fewer partners than his younger counterpart in other studies); and tends not to live alone and isolated. Although about half the respondents believed that younger gays (i.e., under the questionnaire cut-off age of 40) typically exhibit negative attitudes toward the older men, those who actually formed relationships with younger gays generally matched or exceeded the norm in self-esteem--suggesting that the experience has its positive aspects. The older homosexual was found to be less worried in general about being discovered as gay, and indeed those who were most anxious were those who most prized concealment. Not a perfect study--given the small, localized sampling--but quite passable as a straw in the wind.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1982
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press