Unit 3 : Homosexuality / Same sex issues

Homosexuality means a sexual orientation where the erotic and romantic desire is mainly directed to persons of the same sex. The respective identities are lesbian or gay. Gay is the synonym for male, lesbian for female homosexuality. The sexual orientation of a human is part of their personality and identity. In spite of growing acceptance of homosexuality, many older lesbian women and gay men still lead a social double life.

  Introduction

Homosexuality means a sexual orientation where the erotic and romantic desire is mainly directed to persons of the same sex. The respective identities are lesbian or gay. Gay is the synonym for male, lesbian for female homosexuality. The sexual orientation of a human is part of their personality and identity. In spite of growing acceptance of homosexuality, many older lesbian women and gay men still lead a social double life. This is often no different in institutions that care for older people and often homosexual individuals have to hide their sexual identity for fear of being excluded. In addition, homosexuality is often a taboo subject amongst older people themselves. Thus, older homosexuals may often live in social isolation and suffer loneliness.

The diagram below provides an indication of attitudes toward homosexuality from a cross-country perspective.

Diagram 1: Results of a survey on the social acceptance of homosexuality in different countries.

  

  Key messages

  • The subject of homosexuality still is a taboo in many countries, particularly amongst older people.
  • Older lesbian women and gay men often lead a social double life and can become socially isolated more easily.
  • In Western Europe gay and lesbian people are generally more accepted than in Eastern European countries. 

  Learning objectives

At the end of this unit students are expected to:

  1. Understand that homosexuality is often a taboo subject amongst older people. 
  2. Appreciate the particular challenges that older homosexual individuals may confront.
  3. Recognise that significant variation, informed by cultural and religious attitudes, shapes views of sexuality across countries.

  Content


Case Study

Elise (79) and Anna (80) are moving into an assisted living facility for older people together, as they need help managing their daily life. They made the decision to move out of their flat, which they had shared for many years and to seek external help while maintaining their autonomy. In spite of having lived their lesbian relationship openly in the past, they worry about the perception of their relationship in this new environment. Some friends have suggested that they should not mention it to anyone in their new living arrangements, until they have assessed the prevailing attitudes.

Reflective Questions
  1. Why do you think friends have advised Elise and Anna to keep their relationship a secret? Would you give the same advice? Why/Why not?
  2. Do you think it is important for Elise and Anna to live their relationship openly? What reasons would you provide to them?
  3. Imagine an instance in which Elisa and Anna might need full-time care or need to transfer to a nursing home. What further challenges, if any, do you think are likely to occur for them as a couple?

 

Download Unit 3

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein