chapter  9
Social connection, relationships and older lesbian and gay people Socialco nnection,relationshipsandolderlesb ianandgaypeople
Catherine Barrett, Carolyn Whyte, Jude Comfort, Anthony Lyons and Pauline Crameri
ByCatherine Barett, rl t, Je frt, Anthony Lyons and
Pages 12

Many older lesbians and gay men have lived through a time when their only protection

against heterosexist violence and discrimination was to make themselves invisible, to

publicly deny their sexual orientation and pass as heterosexuals (Barrett, 2008). Disclo-

sure could result in imprisonment, enforced medical interventions and “cures,” or the loss

of employment, family and friends (Barrett, 2008; Leonard, Duncan, & Barrett, 2012).

Prior to the gay liberation movement, the experience of coming out or disclosing their

sexual orientation had a detrimental impact on their sense of self, relationships and social

connections. Older lesbians and gay men are less likely than their post-liberation peers to

have had their sexual orientation affirmed or celebrated, are less likely to have developed

positive self-image and self-esteem (Cronin & King, 2014) and more likely to have expe-

rienced fracturing of significant relationships.