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Queer, visible, present: the visibility of older LGB adults in long-term care environments

Paul Willis (School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)

Housing, Care and Support

ISSN: 1460-8790

Article publication date: 18 September 2017




This paper is a conceptual discussion of the ways in which the diverse lives, identities and collective politics of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people can be made visible, and how they are made visible, in long-term care environments for older people. The purpose of this paper is to problematise strategies of visibility as methods for promoting social inclusion in care environments.


This is a conceptual discussion that draws on several social theorists that have previously discussed the politics of visibility, knowledge and sexuality.


Promoting increased visibility in itself does not fully grapple with the ways in which older LGB can be represented and known as particular kinds of sexual citizens. This potentially curtails a more holistic recognition of their needs, interests and wishes, inclusive of their sexual lives and histories. Making LGB lives visible in care environments may not always be a productive or affirmative strategy for dismantling homophobic views and beliefs.

Practical implications

The theoretical implications of a politics of visibility warrant a deeper consideration of strategies for promoting visibility. The paper concludes with a discussion of some of the practical implications for rethinking strategies of visibility in care environments.


Critical discussions about the application of visibility strategies, and the problematic assumptions contained within such strategies, are lacking in relation to mainstream housing and social care provision for older LGB people. This paper seeks to initiate this important discussion.



Willis, P. (2017), "Queer, visible, present: the visibility of older LGB adults in long-term care environments", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 110-120.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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