In the margins or the mainstream? Future directions and innovations in providing inclusive accommodation and support for older LGBTI adults

Paul Willis (Editor), Trish Hafford-Letchfield (Editor), Anthony Smith (Editor)

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The health, social and economic wellbeing of older adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) has received ever-increasing attention from public bodies, third sector organisations and academic communities over the last 15 years within the UK and other economically advantaged nations. Concerted efforts in research and practice communities have
drawn attention to the cumulative impact of “coming of age” prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 across parts of the UK. This includes greater recognition of historically oppressive moral discourses that situate homosexual relationships as sinful and degenerate and biomedical discourses that have classified homosexuality as a subject of mental health diagnosis
and treatment (prior to its removal from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973) (Fish, 2012). At the centre of research and policy outputs is the objective to produce inclusive and responsive health, social care and civic services that are attuned to the impact of historical and institutional homophobia on older LGBTI people’s lives. This equates to services that are sensitive to older individuals, couples and people living in families of choice who live with apprehension about the receipt of homophobic, transphobic and heterosexist responses when seeking help with meeting their needs in later life. Inclusion of older LGBTI adults in service planning and provision requires recognition of the differing relationships and kinship ties many older adults have
experienced across the life course. Indeed, many older LGB adults have entered and exited heterosexual relationships during their lifetime and continue to fulfil parenting and grand-parenting roles (Willis et al., 2014; Gabrielson and Holston, 2014). Recognition of the life-stories, significant relationships and future preferences of older LGBTI service users can be confounded by two discriminatory factors: the discourse of ageist erotophobia (Hafford-Letchfield, 2008; Simpson et al., 2015) that positions older people’s sexual expressions and relationships as abnormal and unnatural; and, the combined impact of ageism, cisgenderism and heterosexism which overshadows the lives of non-heterosexual and non-cisgender older adults.

This is an editorial of a special issue to readers of the journal which identify fundamental concerns attached to ageing, housing and care in later life for LGBTI adults as a frequently neglected group in ageing research. Second, this collection of articles brings new arguments to the table about the role of innovation in creating new housing and social care services that alleviate the concerns of this cohort.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2016


  • inclusive accommodation
  • older LGBTI adults
  • wellbeing


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