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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26436

Title: Old Coyotes: Life Histories of Aging Gay Men in Rural Canada
Authors: Trentham, Barry
Advisor: Cole, Ardra
Department: Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Keywords: gay aging and the life course
gay aging in rural Canada
occupational aging
life history methodology
Issue Date: 1-Mar-2011
Abstract: Current understandings of aging and the life course are largely based on taken-for-granted hetero-normative assumptions. Gay men lack aging road maps that are unique to their life course experiences and which consider the changing contextual and social conditions that shape their participation choices in family and community roles. This is particularly so for gay men aging in rural environments as most studies of aging gay men focus on the urban experience. This study adds to understandings of aging and the life course by examining the lives of three gay men aging in rural environments. I use a life history approach to shed light on how sexual identity development and marginalization within rural environments intersect with shifting social contexts to shape the aging process in terms of engagement in social role opportunities, namely, community and family participation. As a life course researcher, I pay particular attention to the tensions between individual agency and structural constraints and how they are revealed through the life histories. Epistemological and methodological assumptions based on social constructivism, critical and queer theory inform the study while my own lived experiences as a gay man and an occupational therapist practitioner and educator ground the study. Cross-cutting themes identified in the life narratives reveal connections between sexual identity development and the coming out processes with patterns of social relationships and the gay aging process. These themes are then discussed in terms of their relevance to broader aging and life course constructs including generativity, social capital and gay aging; agency and structure in identity development; and expanded notions of family and social support for gay men. Findings from this study have implications for current explanations of ageing and life course processes; challenge limiting stereotypes of older gay men; inform health and social service professionals who work with older gay people; and provide examples of alternative queer life pathways for gay people of all ages.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26436
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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