A new study being published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that sexual minority stress—carrying the stigma attached to homosexuality—negatively impacts the mental health of gay men aged 44-75.
Part of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, a massive study of the epidemic in the United States, the survey was based on questionnaires answered by 200 gay men, both HIV+ and HIV-, in 2009 and 2010.
It also reported that losing loved ones to AIDS was another factor against general well-being. As Pink News reports:
Having a same-sex domestic partner or same-sex spouse boosted the emotional health of the studied men, but having a same-sex legal spouse appeared to be the most beneficial relationship arrangement.
Lead author Richard G. Wight of the Williams Institute at UCLA: “This study shines a light on the mental health of a generation of gay men who survived the early years of the AIDS crisis and came of age on the heels of the gay rights movement.
We’re not social scientists, but 200 seems like an awfully small sample group, especially for a self-administered survey. But it’s hard to deny that the closet and the specter of AIDS have played havoc with the emotional health of so many of us.
What think you, readers—does this jibe with your personal experience?
I am fortunate enough to have a (much!) younger partner, and that helps keep me young & minimize stress. But yes, men my age have it harder than the younger guys today who didn’t have to live with the same level of societal disapproval.
The sample size is ridiculously small. However, I think different generations have differing views of themselves based on the things they have gone through; so, it is easier for 20s than for 30s, for 30s than for 40s, etc. However, is this a phenomenon that only applies to gay men, or does it apply to all people, especially minorities?
Not to mention, how did they define their variables? What is stress? What is damaging? Also, who is their sample? This test has definite issues of validity. Their true results should probably read more like, “Out of 200 men from our community, (majority %) feels that (amount of stress) has caused (amount of damage). Anything else is over reaching, but since, like all studies done by universities, the goal is simply to get published (to get tenure or a pay raise) they will state whatever makes it into the journal.
It’s a price that minorities pay; regardless of what minority they are part of.
Humans evolved from and are social creatures, being part of the out group is stressful for any member of the out group.
Live alone and like it. No drama. Partners CAUSE stress.
64 here. My much younger partner left me 5 years ago. I am very lonely.
turning 50 in a few weeks, and my husband of 2 years and I have been together for 10 years.
being married, moving to a rural area, a much calmer life.. it has ALL been good for me.
a good friend of mine lost his partner a few years ago… after 20 years together, he up and left. I KNOW he’s having a lot of stress related to that. and when you hit 50+ years of age, you can’t just walk into some bar and hope to meet the love of your life. there is a great deal of ageism in the gay community.
I think it goes without saying that not being fully accepted by society is damaging. This an important study yielding obvious results.
Please tell me something I do not know.
On the plus side, we’re talking about it, and the community is starting to act.
Older men need support, partly because of homophobia, but also because so many of our generation are gone.
But the twenty something crowd also need help with their self esteem, after the hatefest of public school. They may have it better than we did, but they’re still spreading hiv, as many of us did.
Both needs should be addressed pronto. If I had my way, we would divert resources from marraige to these issues. But a by product of marraige is emotional health, and dare I say it, selfishness. The people with partners who have control of our movement can’t see beyond their own tax returns. So more important needs are not being addressed.
@MikeE: Especially in the bar scene, which is why I am thankful that where I live has 2-3 gay campgrounds in the near vicinity. The gay campgrounds are much less ageist and attract more mature men looking for more mature men.
@WillBFair: What in the HELL do tax returns have to do with hospital visitation rights, partner rights, equal treatment, etc.? Seriously, it starts at marriage because until the law recognizes our relationships we are always going to feel like our relationships are not worth the same as same sex relationships. That is the biggest problem effecting mental health of the LGBT community.
Who knew gay men were such professional victims?
Campgrounds are nothing but outdoor bath houses. There’s nothing wrong with having sex with strangers but that’s pretty much all you’re going to find there and the only reason why people go to them. There’s nothing special about them.
@Drew: I don’t know which campgrounds you’ve been to (obviously, a campground of ill-repute, from your description), but none of the half dozen or so I’ve visited near me are the dens of inequity you describe.
@Drew: If you want it to be an outdoor bath house, then yes it will be your outdoor bath house, but so will the back alley of your favorite nite club. If you want to meet someone there then the chances are much greater because its not a club scene. Its where I met my partner, and we are going on 1 1/2 years together.
@Isaac C: Why would you say such a thing? Are you jealous of their relationship or something? I don’t think that ANYONE has the right to judge the relationship of someone else. Its especially ridiculous coming from a gay man when gay men are judged for their relationships from the day they have a relationship with anyone.
@Isaac C: Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you wrote the script and everyone else just had to read their lines. I didn’t realize you could tell the future. Is it really that hard to believe that someone can love someone older than them?
@Isaac C: Wow. What a gigantic blowhard. Now you get to decide what relationships are “appropriate”?
@Isaac C: Maybe they were looking for someone in their own age group and instead met someone younger that managed to steal their heart. That is supposed to be wrong? I know, you are simply upset because even the older guys don’t look twice at you.
Issac you sir are obviously an IDIOT but that does not excuse your vile comments to a person who is just being honest about how he feels. You should go back to whatever hole you crawled out of and search your soul for any remnant of shame you have left and embrace it in the hopes that you can one day live among actual humans again. It makes me sick that people can be so cruel and insensitive to someone they dont even know just for the sake of somehow feeling superior to them.
PS: Love knows no boundaries age or otherwise. What you said its no different than people saying two men or two women cannot be in love because its not appropriate.
@Dave Lara: I also have a much younger (16 years) husband than myself we have been together 15 years and counting with a wonderful 4 yo daughter. I could not imagine the pain of loosing that and I am very sorry for your loss. I am also sorry that in our “community” there are insensitive people who make them selves feel better by putting others down. Please do not dwell on feeling lonley. I have always believed that we all have someone out there, I was 35 before he came along, and the only way to find them is to get up and look 😉
@Daez: Tax returns is a metaphore for all the things you mentioned, most of which, by the way, can be handled with a lawyer and partnership agreement. We don’t need to waste resources on marraige in states where we have civil unions, and we shouldn’t waste them elsewhere when we have bigger fish to fry. Queue the referenece to Rosa Parks as an excuse for everyone else to wait while married people file joint returns.
Again, we have bigger problems. That you ignored them and stuck with your own issues only proves my point about selfishness.
@WillBFair: Its more than just paperwork. It is the feeling of having your relationship actually recognized. I love how you simply glossed over that point. If you think that not having your relationship actually recognized is not detrimental to your mental health then you should tell that to the APA, the ApA and a bunch of other medical expert associations that says it is.
Again, it’s all about you. Your feelings. Please.
Newsflash! Young people are spreading hiv. Stopping hiv would stop suffering and save money and improve our reputation. Older single men are a lot worse off than you. A massive pr campaign on our historical contributions would move public opinion in three seconds. And enda is critical because people are still being FIRED FROM THEIR JOBS for being gay.
Sorry for wasting a few seconds on serious issues. You can get back to your all important feelings.
@Isaac C: You have sunk to a new level of low. I applaud you. You should be proud of yourself.
To tell a father of a 4 year old that his lover will leave him and his child in five years time just because they are different ages isn’t just distasteful its disgusting.
Hopefully, you feel proud now.
@WillBFair: What you fail to grasp is that it is the recognition of a formal relationship that is to cause for most of what you mentioned.
Why not fuck around in your youth? Its not like you can get married like your straight counterparts, so why do you need a real relationship?
Of course, older SINGLE men are worse off than I am. You know what? They are also worse off than older married men. Of course, they can’t get married because that isn’t legal.
I would argue that ENDA is not critical since the vast majority of companies are now supporting gay rights and have sexual orientation written into their own non-discrimination policies. The ones that do not, you do not really want to work for anyways. Also, its a lot harder to turn down a father of two for a job even if he is married to a man. Yet again, it comes back to marriage/adoption rights.
@Isaac C: What bullshit? That people of different ages can love each other? You have the right to judge me and my relationship just because I am in love with someone 23 years older than myself? What gives you that right exactly? Why do you get to say that my relationship is doomed to failure?
If I told you that club trick you picked up last night (if you were so lucky) was just a club trick you would probably be pissed off. However, you somehow have the right to judge me and my family (there are two children involved) as not worthy of your approval? Who are you, Fred Phelps or Sarah Palin?
the other Greg
@WillBFair: Have to agree (generally) with WillBFair on this one; I think his main point is just that 98% of the gay community’s focus is ALREADY on marriage marriage marriage marriage marriage… yadda yadda yadda… so jeez, what the fuck MORE do the marriage people want? You can’t expect every gay person – even some of us who are coupled – to be equally focused on marriage like a red-hot laser beam all the time.
@Isaac C: Sweet fancy Moses. What a mean-spirited comment. You seem like a really bitter person.
@Daez: If I were you, I’d ignore the guy. He clearly enjoys trying to hurt people. Leave him alone with his bitterness.
@Isaac C: Truth hurts? The only person who should be ashamed is you for believing you have any right to judge. Who do you think you are?
Since there’s a bitchfest on right now, I’ll try to offer some nice words to even it out:
To those men who are with either much older or much younger men, go ahead with it! It’s not my personal choice of a relationship for myself, but who am I to say your relationship isn’t valid? All the benefits and all the disadvantages must be observed by anyone going into a relationship. If the two partners are the same age, then it’s much more accepted but then again, those with a much older partner know how to deal with life far better. I hope I’m not generalising here, but if you love each other enough to go ahead and raise a child, then that truly is the best thing a couple can do.
Sure, the children may get a little confused as to why one of their parents is far older than their other one, but when the hell has parenting been easy?
It’s just as useful saying “You shouldn’t have children if you’re gay, because the children will be confused that everyone else around them has straight parents”
That’s what this Isaac C guy is saying; the children will have a stunted growth.
Yeah, that’s what they said about two gays, male or female, raising a child. Look how that turned out.
@Isaac C: Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it wrong! Has what I just said not made sense? There is nothing inherently wrong with what these families are or what they’re doing!
@Isaac C: Yeah, but you’re imposing what you regard as unacceptable on others. That’s the issue. No one can police what others do, even if it seems wrong,
my my my…
first we had to contend with the christian-taliban…
and now, it would seem, we have to contend with the GAY taliban?!?!
enough telling other people how they should live their lives.
you’re a disgusting individual.
Isaac C is a complete mental case with 4 different shades of stratejacket. I thought they had locked him up but obviously he got out. How he can type w a stratejacket on is beyond me. Even w the jacket on he still bites. As they say “don’t feed the trolls”, then they do tend to go away. But in this case, he may be the Queerty stalker. Totally unhinged this one is. Hasn’t got a clue what the word “boundaries” means.
@Isaac C: And so commences the name calling. And it wasn’t a harmless response; you said that they were wrong and stupid to do what they thought would be best. That ain’t a nice thing to say.
@Isaac C: Why does the fact that other people choose to live their lives differently than you bother you so damned much? Me and my bf are the same age but we know others who have larger age differences and their relationships are just as legitimate as ours. Just because you don’t believe a certain arrangement wouldn’t work for you doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for everyone, and believe it or not there are quite a few young guys that prefer dating older men. I say this as a young guy just telling you what others have told me about their preferences for dating, there are a lot of reasons why a young guy might choose to go for an older man other than just money.
@Isaac C: You are voicing your opinion about something you obviously would not even try because you are so opposed to it. I need to tell you that the last thing I thought about was money. I actually spend a great deal less than my partner does. I reign in his spending habits. He is just a really cool guy who is actually mature. With your maturity level, I think you represent what most 20 year old twinks are all about, and that leads to why I would ever want to date one.
Max the Communist
Could we get funding for a bigger, more comprehensive, and more rigorous study? It’s such an important issue with an aging LGBTQ population–I feel like I’ve been given a teaser with no hope of a feature.
@Daez: I would say not, because of the fact that racial minorities often have other people of that minority to talk to openly about their issues with racial [email protected]Daez:
I would say no: Racial minorities can often talk openly with another member of their ethnic group about racial prejudice.
With the stigma attached to homosexuality, many times people experiencing prejudice depending on where they live sometimes can’t.
@the other Greg: Thanks.
There are other arguments to make.
1) I think marraige is where we are weakest in the opinion polls. 2) So of course the repubs want us to focus on that. 3) And just before the election is not the right time anyway. It could harm Obama’s chances. After the election would be better, and there are other issues to address in the meantime.
It does for all of us. It was unhealthy for me when I was 20. I like posts like this.
As someone who worked in an assisted living facility for 3+ years, I have to say a lot of people like to pretend social progress never left the 1950’s. Not just the residents, EVERYONE, including some of the employees who were a decade younger than me. Seriously, If you said “Happy Holidays” instead of “Marry Christmas” people freaked. You think the Elder Care culture would be emotionally prepared to deal with anyone who needed help, or was willing to help, but, sadly, in my experience, no.
I am pleased to see this subject of older gays being discussed.
At age 73, I am faced with the delima.
My daily life is occupied with matters of aging, mine are minor compared to many people.
The thing I do not look forward to is loss of being independent.
The saddest thing is loneleness,,,,.
This is not only gays, widows and widowers/loss of spouce ,,, also have to deal with loneless.
The MARRIAGE issues of gays today are also important to discuss.
In MARRIAGE,,,, gays loose some benifits, pay more tax, etc.
Some would say we are lucky by not being required to go thru all the “legal hoops” to get a divorce,,,. That is a big advantage we will loose with legal marriage.
Remember, the divorce rate is high.
And, most gays end up in numerous relationships with the same effect as divorce,,, except it is not so messey with the “legal hoops” of divorce.
My opinion is that the churches, politicions, goverment are not aware that they are doing gays a favor.
Maybe, it would be wise to leave it as is,, , .
If they know we have this advantage, the assholes would probably want to punish us with being required to marry, lol.
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