Older lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in California are more likely to suffer from chronic physical and mental health problems than their heterosexual counterparts, a new analysis has found. They also are less likely to have live-in partners or adult children who can help care for them.
Now maybe the problem is that "gay culture tends to be youth-driven," as one of the researchers theorizes, because you know gay men are crazy for hot college boys. Or it could be that older gay men and lesbians came of age at a time when homophobia and discrimination were much more toxic and pervasive, when there was no support whatsoever—no marriage rights, no domestic partnership benefits—for same-sex couples, when our families-of-origin were much more likely to be extremely hostile, and when it was much more difficult for out gay men and lesbians to start their own families (we couldn't adopt, undergo artificial insemination, hire surrogates, etc.). And childless gay men and lesbians who were cast out or cut off by families-of-origin decades ago are less likely to know, much less have relationships with, the same nieces, nephews, and cousins that their older, single, childless straight relatives rely on for support. And in the case of gay men over 50, it could be that they lost many of their peers, friends, lovers, and partners to a deadly epidemic.
In short, there are a lot of reasons why the first generation of gays and lesbians to live openly might not have the same kind of support in old age that their straight peers do. Blaming the fact that gay people, like straight people, find the young and hot to be young and hot shifts the blame.
The oppression of sexual minorities warps lives. There's less oppression now than there used to be, thanks to the sacrifices and bravery of LGBT people who came out when it was much riskier to be out, which means there will be less warping—and less loneliness and less isolation and less despair—as gays and lesbians under 50 grow older. But you can't look at the lives of gay men and lesbians who are between the ages of 50 and 70 now without asking yourself what it was like to come of age as a gay man or a lesbian then—that is, thirty, forty, fifty, and sixty years ago. (Hint: it was a hell of a lot harder.)