Older lesbians, ageing and equality
In the growing literature on LGBT ageing, older lesbians remain under-represented even though there are significant ways in which lesbian ageing is unique. As a result of this discursive absence the particular needs of older lesbians may go unrecognised, leading to an imbalance in resource provision. Although multiple intersecting cultural and economic influences make the older lesbian community as diverse as any other population, older women who are lesbians are subject to specific experiences and pressures which can produce profound inequalities. The most obvious of these derives from the gendered nature of the ageing process, which intersects with sexual identity to deprive older lesbians of representation, recognition and resources.
This chapter analyses the ways in which older lesbians themselves perceive and describe those inequalities and intersections. Specifically, it investigates equality issues associated with age, gender, gender expression, race, class and education. Drawing on new empirical data from groups of lesbian women in their 70s, as well as on an earlier (2010) large-scale survey of lesbians born between 1920 and 1950, the chapter examines the lived experience of inequality among a diverse sample of older lesbians in the UK.