OLD LESBIANS

RESOURCE LIST

There has been little research into the needs of old lesbians in this country, and even less published. However, the following article was compiled by the Pensioner's Link Lesbian Workers' Group (it is also published in our Lesbians and Housing Pack). It reveals the stark reality of what life is like for old, mainly working class, lesbians, and most live in London where there is more support than anywhere else in Britain! It is followed by extracts from "Social Work with Lesbians Over 60," a paper by Lyn Ridley written in 1989 as part of her Social Work training course. In contrast there has been quite a bit of research in the U.S.A. This is listed below, with short descriptions, and is available in this country through the Library Service by completing a request form at your Library; it should take about a month and will cost you between 25p and 50p per item. There is also a book list - those marked with an asterisk are available through the Library Service, the others should be obtainable from bookshops. The articles give us an idea of what is being done in the U.S.A. and how we can learn from their experiences. Finally, a brief report of the 1989 U.S. West Coast Celebration II and Conference of Old Lesbians. This contrasts sharply with the Pensioners Link paper, revealing the effects of multi-oppression i.e. being homosexual, female, old and working class.

ABSTRACTS

THE UNSEEN MINORITY: OLDER GAYS AND LESBIANS, RAYMOND M. BERGER, SOCIAL WORK, 1982, VOL 27(3), P236-242.

The helping professions ignore older homosexual men and women, groups that have special strengths and needs. This article describes the institutional, legal, emotional, and medical problems older homosexuals face and suggests how social workers can provide services to these groups.

SENIOR ACTION IN A GAY ENVIRONMENT: SAGE, MICHELE SCHWARTZ, PRACTICE DIGEST, 1984, VOL 7(1), P17-20.

LESBIANS OVER 65: A TRIPLY INVISIBLE MINORITY, MONIKA KEHOE,
JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY, 1986, VOL 12(3/4), P139-152.

Questionnaire responses from 50 lesbians, 65 to 85 years of Age, were used to describe their present status, their educational background, their economic and occupational condition, their personal and psycho/social concerns, as well as their perception of their own physical and mental health. The data suggests that the 65+ lesbian is a survivor, a balanced personality, coping with aging in a satisfactory manner.

THE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF AGING: CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR LESBIANS AND GAY MEN, RICHARD A. FRIEND, JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY, 1987, VOL 14(1/2), P307-331.

This article examines issues regarding aging for homosexual people in an attempt to provide a more comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the meaning age has for women and men in our society. Through the use of case examples, clinical concerns and interventions are discussed as they relate to three broad areas. Specifically, the interrelated effects of ageism and heterosexism, normal changes in sexual response with age, and "accelerated aging" are explored. The relationship between social context and individual psychology provides the framework for discussion. As the literature reviewed here indicates, there is a great deal of diversity among homosexual women and men in their experiences with aging. The strengths and insights which characterize many older homosexual men and women, however, provide valuable lessons for all men and women.

INTIMACY, AGING AND CHEMCIAL DEPENDENCY, JOHN BRANTNER,
JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY TREATMENT, SPECIAL ISSUE: CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY AND INTIMACY DYSFUNCTION, 1987, VOL 1(1), P261-268.

CAREGIVING: WHAT DO MIDLIFE LESBIANS VIEW AS IMPORTANT? C. THORPE TULLY, JOURNAL OF GAY AND LESBIAN PSYCHOTHERAPY, 1989, VOL 1(1), P87-103.

This study describes the caregiving needs 73 midlife lesbians perceived as important to their ability to maintain themselves in their communities as they age. It examines to whom they turn for care currently and from whom they expect care in the future if they become frail. Pertinent concerns for therapeutic interventions specific to midlife lesbians are discussed. While the data suggest that the basic biopsychosocial caregiving needs and personal desires of aging lesbians are similar to other aging persons, this minority has special caregiving needs because of its sexual orientation.

OLDER LESBIAN AND GAY PEOPLE: RESPONDING TO HOMOPHOBIA, RICHARD A. FRIEND, MARRIAGE AND FAMILY REVIEW, 1989, VOL 14(3/4), P241-263.

Using a theoretical model of lesbian and gay identity formation, this paper examines the complex relationships between families and older gay and lesbian adults as a way to better understand the extensive variations individuals have in their relationships with themselves, presentation of self, relationships with others and their behaviors. Three potential styles of lesbian and gay identity formation are described in order to highlight the structures and dynamics involved in issues for gay and lesbian elders and their families. It is argued that by challenging heterosexism and by minimizing homophobia, older lesbian and gay people experience a successful aging process. While individuals who are lesbian and gay have greater potential to age with a sense of power, pride and fulfillment, so do the families from which they came and those they have created.

OLDER LESBIAN WOMEN, AN INVISIBLE MINORITY, SHARON DEEVEY,
JOURNAL OF GERONTOLOGICAL NURSING, 1990, VOL 16(5), P35-37.

THE SAGE MODEL FOR SERVING OLDER LESBIANS AND GAY MEN, MORGAN GWENWALD,
JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY, 1991, VOL 20(3/4), P53-61.

There may be 3,560,000 older gay men and lesbians in the U.S. Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE) is one model of a community's efforts to recognize this population and provide services to it. This paper examines the history of SAGE and its efforts to service this community of older gay men and lesbians.

A LIFE-REVIEW WORKSHOP FOR GAY AND LESBIAN ELDERS, FRANK S. GALASSI,
JOURNAL OF GERONTOLOGICAL SOCIAL WORK, 1991, VOL 16(1/2), P75-86.

A Life-Review Model to serve the specific needs of Gay and Lesbian Elders has been very much needed. A workshop has been developed through which the gay and lesbian elderly community may articulate both its personal and collective history, and its current psychological and physical health priorities. The workshop model reveals formerly undisclosed data which can be utilized in printed, audio and video cassette presentations by geriatric practitioners, social workers, medical school faculties and community service administrators on behalf of gay and lesbian elders.

JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY (GAY MIDLIFE AND MATURITY), 1991, VOL 20 (3/4), INCLUDES:

FOREWORD, JOHN ALAN LEE,
PXIII-XIX.

INTRODUCTION, FRANKLIN EDWARD KEMENY, P1-5.

STIGMA, GAY LIFESTYLES, AND ADJUSTMENT TO AGING; A STUDY OF LATER-LIFE GAY MEN AND LESBIANS, MARCY ADELMAN, P7-32.

LAVENDER AND GRAY: A BRIEF SURVEY OF LESBIAN AND GAY AGING STUDIES, MARGARET CRUICKSHANK, P77-87.

BEING THERE: A SUPPORT NETWORK OF LESBIAN WOMEN, BETH DORRELL, JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY, P89-98.

OLDER LESBIAN AND GAY PEOPLE: A THEORY OF SUCCESSFUL AGING, RICHARD A. FRIEND, P99-118.

LONELINESS AND THE AGING HOMOSEXUAL: IS PET THERAPY AN ANSWER? MONIKA KEHOE, P137-142.

CAN WE TALK? CAN WE REALLY TALK? COMMUNICATION AS A KEY FACTOR IN THE MATURING HOMOSEXUAL COUPLE, JOHN ALAN LEE, P143-168.

ADAPTATION AND AGE-RELATED EXPECTATIONS OF OLDER GAY AND LESBIAN ADULTS, JEAN K. QUAM, GARY S. WHITFORD,
THE GERONTOLOGIST, 1992, VOL 32(3), P367-374.

Results from a study of lesbian women and gay men in the Midwest over the age of 50, who indicate high levels of involvement in the gay community, provide a picture of the aging process of these adults that builds on previous research efforts. Respondents reported acceptance of the aging process, and high levels of life satisfaction, despite predictable problems associated with aging and sexual orientation. Being active in the gay community was an asset to accepting one's own aging.

ENCOUNTERS WITH OLDER LESBIANS IN PSYCHIATRIC PRACTICE, PARSLEY POWER SMITH, SEXUAL AND MARITAL THERAPY, 1992, VOL 7(1), P79-86.

This paper starts from the feminist perspective that the problems experienced by older lesbians need to be understood in their political and socio-cultural context. Given that we live in a society that pathologizes sexual activity beyond the reproductive years and lesbianism at any age, and which labels old people as asexual, lesbians frequently present to practitioners in unorthodox ways. This is perhaps because internalized oppression and fears of being labelled 'sick', 'deviant', 'sexless', and even 'psychogeriatric' silence them. Case material is presented in an attempt to illustrate an eclectic basis for practice which reflects the experience of older lesbians. Despite the traditional view that older people are unsuitable for the psychotherapies and respond better to more 'medical' therapies (drugs, electroconvulsive therapy, etc.), this paper demonstrates that therapy can be helpful and relevant to older lesbians when the therapist does not construct the patient's lesbianism as a basic problem.

LESBIANS AT MIDLIFE: THE CREATIVE TRANSITION, BARBARA SANG, REVIEW BY DOUGLAS KIMMEL, JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY, 1992, VOL 23(3), P124-130.

THE FAMILIES OF OLDER GAY MEN AND LESBIANS, DOUGLAS C. KIMMEL, GENERATIONS, 1992, VOL 16/17(3/3) P37-38.

LESBIAN HOSPICE PATIENTS, THERESA M. STEPHANY, HOME HEALTHCARE NURSE, 1993, VOL 11(6), P65.

CHAPTERS IN BOOKS

LESBIAN AND GAY ISSUES: A RESOURCE MANUAL FOR SOCIAL WORKERS, H. HILDAGO, T.L. PETERSON AND N.J. WOODMAN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS, 1980. INCLUDES:

REWRITING A BAD SCRIPT: OLDER LESBIANS AND GAYS, RAYMOND M. BERGER,
P53.

WOMEN-IDENTIFIED-WOMEN, EDITED BY TRUDY DARTY AND SANDEE POTTER, MAYFIELD PUBLISHING COMPANY, 1984, INCLUDES:

THE OLDER LESBIAN: LOVE RELATIONSHIPS AND FRIENDSHIP PATTERNS, SHARON RAPHAEL, MINA ROBINSON, P67-82.

SISTER-OUTSIDER: ESSAYS & SPEECHES, AUDRE LORDE, THE CROSSING PRESS, 1984, INCLUDES:

AGE, RACE, CLASS, AND SEX: WOMEN REDEFINING DIFFERENCE, P114-123.

LESBIAN PSYCHOLOGIES: EXPLORATIONS & CHALLENGES, EDITED BY THE BOSTON LESBIAN PSYCHOLOGIES COLLECTIVE, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS PRESS, 1987, INCLUDES:

AGING LESBIANS: OBSERVATIONS AND SPECULATIONS, BUFFY DUNKER, P72-82.

ALIVE & WELL: A LESBIAN HEALTH GUIDE, CUCA HEPBURN WITH BONNIE GUTIERREZ, THE CROSSING PRESS, 1988, INCLUDES:

AGE, P208-210.

LESBIAN COUPLES, D. MERILEE CLUNIS & G. DORSEY GREEN, SEAL PRESS, 1988, INCLUDES:

GROWING OLDER TOGETHER, P219-231.

BOOKS

LOOK ME IN THE EYE: OLD WOMEN, AGING AND AGEISM, BARBARA MACDONALD WITH CYNTHIA RICH, THE WOMENS PRESS, 1984.

LONG TIME PASSING: LIVES OF OLDER LESBIANS, EDITED BY MARCY ADLEMAN, ALYSON PUBLICATIONS, 1986.

LESBIAN PASSAGES, TRUESTORIES TOLD BY WOMEN OVER 40, ED. MARCY ADELMAN, ALYSON, 1986.

AGEISM IN THE LESBIAN COMMUNITY, BABA COPPER, THE CROSSING PRESS, 1987.

LESBIANS OVER 60 SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, MONIKA KEHOE, HARRINGTON PARK PRESS, 1988; ALSO PUBLISHED AS JOURNAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY, VOL 16(3/4), 1988.

OVER THE HILL: REFLECTIONS ON AGEISM BETWEEN WOMEN, BABA COPPER, THE CROSSING PRESS, 1988.

AFTER THE STROKE: A JOURNAL, MAY SARTON, THE WOMEN'S PRESS, 1988.

LESBIANS AT MIDLIFE: CREATIVE TRANSITIONS, B. SANG, J. WARSHAW, A.J. SMITH, INLAND WOMENSOURCE, 1991.

FACILITATOR'S HANDBOOK: CONFRONTING AGEISM, CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING FOR LESBIANS 60 AND OVER, OLD LESBIAN ORGANIZING COMMITTEE, P.O. BOX 980422, HOUSTON, TEXAS 77098, U.S.A. 1992. FOR REVIEW BY RUTH MOUNTAINGROVE SEE OFF OUR BACKS, FEBRUARY 1993, P13

LAMDA GRAY: A PRACTICAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL GUIDE FOR GAYS AND LESBIANS WHO ARE GROWING OLDER, M. ADELMAN,
NEWCASTLE PUB C. 1993.

WE'RE COUNTING ON EQUALITY, MONITORING EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES IN THE WORKPLACE IN RELATION TO SEX, RACE, DISABILITY, SEXUALITY, HIV/AIDS, AND AGE, MAREE GLADWIN, CITY CENTRE, 32-35 FEATHERSTONE ST, LONDON, EC1Y 8QX.

VIDEOS

WOMEN LIKE US: THE LIVES OF OLDER LESBIANS, CLIO CO-OP, 91C MILDMAY ROAD, LONDON, N1 4PU.

WOMEN LIKE THAT: THE SEQUEL TO WOMEN LIKE US, CLIO CO-OP.

ORGANISATIONS

Older Lesbian Network, BM OLN, London, WC1N 3XX. Newsletter and London group.

Northern Older Lesbian Network, contact Bradford Lesbian Line: 01274.305525, Thursdays 7-9.

Pensioners Link, 33 Dalston Lane, London, E8.

© Lesbian Information Service 1995