Growing old as a gay man: how life has changed for the gay liberation generation Academic Article uri icon


  • ABSTRACTMen in the gay liberation generation are approaching or entering older age. Being at the forefront of gay rights movements since the 1970s and 1980s, this generation has experienced dramatic changes in gay life. The present study aimed to provide a greater understanding of this generation by examining some of the ways these men perceive their changing lives. Participants included 439 Australian gay-identified men aged 50 years and older who completed an online survey of their health and wellbeing. These men gave unrestricted open-ended responses to a question on how life had changed for them as a gay man since being aged in their twenties. Responses were analysed qualitatively using a thematic analysis approach to identify main themes. Participants expressed many positive changes to their lives, including greater public- and self-acceptance of their sexuality, greater confidence and self-esteem, and more freedom for same-sex relationships. However, some men expressed a loss of gay community compared to their younger years and a perception that the younger generation under-appreciated the struggles they had endured. Age- and HIV-related stigma from within the gay community, as well as a loss of sexual attractiveness, also emerged as concerns for some participants. These findings may assist researchers, health professionals and aged care services to further understand the needs and experiences of this older generation of gay men.

publication date

  • 2015