Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Patricia C. Ripoll
In less than 20 years over 6 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals will be over 65 years old designated as seniors according to the Older Americans Act. When public policies for the aging population are implemented, LGBT individuals are forgotten, especially those living in nonmetropolitan areas. Using a purposeful convenience sample and a phenomenological approach 7 gay seniors residing in Florida suburban areas were interviewed to explore their lives as they age. Aging policies were investigated through the social construction of deservedness lens to ascertain individual political power while exploring (a) the challenges of living in suburban areas, (b) government services used as aging occurs, and (c) connection to the larger LGBT community as these men moved away from metropolitan areas and age. Using a phenomenological interpretive design, findings illustrated these men can choose different constructions, yet seldom disclosed their sexuality for fear of being labeled as a deviant. Four major themes emerged: each man recognized aging is difficult for all seniors but gay men living in suburban areas deal with a lack of gay friendly services; daily discrimination causes many to go back into the closet; government policies for the aging include anti-discrimination against sexual orientation but does not encourage free expression of sexual orientation; and, active involvement in LBGT communities often ceases. Positive social change emerges by using these findings to provide lawmakers with information regarding current aging policies and the realized marginalization of policy constituents in hopes of crafting supporting legislation that is more inclusive of the nonmetropolitan-residing LGBT community.