What’s history got to do with it? Rethinking the provision of LGBTI- inclusive aged care services

Presentation Type: Oral
Conference Stream: Ageing and Aged Care
Presenter: William Leonard
Presentation Title: What’s history got to do with it? Rethinking the provision of LGBTI- inclusive aged care services
Room: Fitzroy
Program schedule: Friday 14 August 2015 at 14:00
Duration: 20 mins


Much of the literature on LGBTI aging has looked at the interactions between two forms of discrimination: heterosexism from the mainstream and ageism from a youth-obsessed LGBTI culture. According to this account, successful ageing involves older LGBTI people turning their dual experiences of discrimination into sources of personal resilience and strength.

This paper argues that a singular emphasis on discrimination has a number of problematic consequences. At one level it runs the risk of valuing the processes that lead to discrimination and with that individual LGBTI people’s experiences of discrimination and abuse: it is these processes and experiences that older LGBTI people must overcome in order to become stronger and more resilient individuals. At another level, it runs the risk of marginalising and blaming older LGBTI people who fail to develop these skills and personal resilience.

This paper argues that what is needed is a model of LGBTI aging that moves beyond a focus on discrimination to one that affirms LGBTI people lives. This is an approach that acknowledges the ongoing impact of discrimination, both past and present, on older LGBTI people. However, it does so without reducing older LGBTI people to little more than effects of discrimination and abuse and successful LGBTI ageing to little more than a series of strategies aimed at minimising the impact of that abuse in their lives. An affirmative model embeds an understanding of the complex and layered histories of older LGBTI people within a broader approach to service delivery that recognises the dignity of their sexualities and gender identities.

Presentation slides (PDF)