Sexual Identity Development and Well-Being in Same Sex Attracted Older Adults

Grant Winners

  • Barry Schneider, Ph.D. – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Timothy Moragne, Psy.D. – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Maya Pignatore, M.S. – Center for Psychological Studies

Dean

  • Karen S. Grosby, Ed.D. – Center for Psychological Studies

Abstract

Award Winners

Although they are a growing segment of today's population, we know relatively little about the psychological well-being of older individuals who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). Though often unrecognized, the current generation of LGB older adults have lived through and been on the forefront of significant periods of change (e.g. the gay rights movement beginning in the 1960s, the AIDS crisis of the 1990s, state recognition of same-sex marriages and the legal rights associated with marriage) which have helped shape modern LGB life. The research that has been conducted with this population has focused on wealthy, gay men, limiting our understanding of lesbian and bisexual older adults. The present study is designed to add to the body of research by assessing well-being and acceptance of sexual orientation among LGB individuals over the age of 50. More specifically, this study will examine levels of sexual orientation acceptance and various facets of psychological well-being, including satisfaction with life, subjective happiness, and quality of relationships. The data from this study will fill gaps in our current understanding of LGB older adults and will also provide new normative and validity data for the Gay Identity Questionnaire (GIQ), a measure of homosexual identity development created by Cass (1980). Collectively, this information will allow us to better understand the needs of LGB older adults, the differences among members of this older population, and how the needs of the older LGB individuals might differ from those of younger individuals. The data collected will also help guide the development of specific services and interventions for this population, potentially leading to improvements in the lives of LGB seniors.