The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of belonging to a same-sexuality social group or network for older lesbians and bisexual women.
In total, 35 women were interviewed about a range of topics including coming out (or not) in the 1950s and 1960s, their feelings about ageing and their experiences of attending groups for lesbians and bisexual women, now and in the past.
The study found that, while the participants had different opinions of groups and their significance, the majority valued the opportunity to meet with other “like-minded” women and enjoyed a range of positive outcomes.
The nature of the space where such groups are located was significant to many as was the employment of paid leaders, not only to take up the administrative burden but to moderate and prevent cliques from forming.
The research indicates that such groups have an important role to play in alleviating loneliness and promoting positive ageing.
This research makes an important contribution to the literature about lesbian, gay and bisexual ageing which is frequently focused on gay men. Their feelings about loneliness, the role of social space and groups are often different to those of lesbian and bisexual women such as my participants, particularly those who were at the cutting edge of second-wave feminism.
Wilkens, J. (2016), "The significance of affinity groups and safe spaces for older lesbians and bisexual women: creating support networks and resisting heteronormativity in older age", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 26-35. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAOA-08-2015-0040
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