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LGBT Aging in the Rural Context

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This chapter examines the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults living in rural regions of the United States. It begins by reviewing the two concepts of rural and nonmetropolitan, how they differ from one another, and the difficulty in comparing studies of rural populations because of the resulting ambiguity in defi nition between the two. Despite these challenges, there exists a broad literature on rural populations, and the chapter reviews three aspects of rural communities: the conditions and status of older rural adults; what is known about the lives of rural LGBT adults of all ages; and finally, the specific issues and concerns of rural LGBT older adults. In general, nonmetropolitan areas are more conservative and homophobic than metropolitan centers, causing many LGBT individuals in these regions of the country to remain closeted in some aspects of their lives. Moreover, the low population density in rural areas leads to far fewer opportunities for LGBT-specific social gatherings. These difficulties are compounded for older, rural LGBT adults who may have less access to transportation, less comfort with online social networking, and may be more fearful of disclosure due to growing up and coming out prior to gay liberation and the development of more progressive policies. The chapter concludes with best practices for practitioners working with rural, LGBT older adults and future trends for this particular population, given the recent dramatic changes in policy related to same-sex marriage and the ubiquity of high-speed Internet enhancing opportunities for connecting online.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2017

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