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Adding grey to the rainbow: a narrative analysis of generational identity through stories and counter-stories of older gay men

  • Kyle L. Bower (a1), Denise C. Lewis (a2), J. Maria Bermudez (a2) and Anneliese A. Singh (a3)

Abstract

We explored identity formation among nine gay men who were born between 1946 and 1964. This group of nine was the largest homogeneous sub-group within a larger sample (N = 18). Although participants share similar demographic characteristics, their individual social, personal and narrative identities diverge to represent distinctive embodied selves. Guided by queer and feminist theories, the qualitative analysis identified dominant and counter-narratives that demonstrate the complexity of sexual identity as it evolves over time. All nine men recall being aware of their gay identity as children; however, like many socially constructed labels, their outward identity was more complex and difficult to understand. The findings demonstrate how participants negotiated their sexual identities through decades of social change. As illustrated within each subset of identity (i.e. social, personal and narrative), some participants found themselves breaking ground for a broader gay rights social movement, while others described their experience of being relegated to silence and invisibility for most of their lives. This research contributes to an ongoing discussion concerning the individuality found among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in later life. As the LGBT population becomes more visible, there will be a growing need to understand the individualism that exists within this coalition and affirm their diversifying sexual and gender identities.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: kbower@uga.edu

References

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Keywords

Adding grey to the rainbow: a narrative analysis of generational identity through stories and counter-stories of older gay men

  • Kyle L. Bower (a1), Denise C. Lewis (a2), J. Maria Bermudez (a2) and Anneliese A. Singh (a3)

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