Πέμπτη, 3 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

13 Δεκεμβρίου: lgbtqi και τρίτη ηλικία: Από τη θεωρία στην πράξη / Η Ελλάδα επιτέλους αποκτά μία LGBTQI ομάδα για την τρίτη ηλικία

Βρεθήκαμε στην επίσημη παρουσίαση των Proud Seniors Greece, της πρώτης αυτοοργανωμένης ομάδας υποστήριξης LGBTQI ηλικιωμένων ατόμων. Γιατί ακόμη και στη χώρα του Αμβρόσιου και του Άνθιμου, η αγάπη μπορεί να βελτιώσει τα πάντα.







Φωτογραφίες: Γεράσιμος Δομένικος / FOSPHOTOS
Proud Seniors Greece 4
Καινοτομίες, πισωγυρίσματα, «κραδασμοί» και σύγχυση υπήρξαν τα βασικά χαρακτηριστικά της χρονιάς που σε λίγο τελειώνει, έχοντας ίσως όσο καμία άλλη στην πρόσφατη ιστορία τόσο έντονο το στοιχείο της εναλλαγής στη συλλογική ψυχοσύνθεση μεταξύ απογοήτευσης κι ελπίδας, μεταξύ «γείωσης» στην πραγματικότητα και το δικαίωμα όχι στο όνειρο αλλά στο αυτονόητο για ορισμένα τμήματα του πληθυσμού που κάποιοι τα θέλουν ακόμη «εκτός κάδρου».  Το ότι λίγο πριν από την εκπνοή του 2015, το  σύμφωνο συμβιωσης για τα ομόφυλα ζευγάρια βρίσκεται πιο κοντά από ποτέ στην υλοποίησή του, μόνο ως χαρμόσυνη εξέλιξη μπορεί να εκληφθεί, όπως άλλωστε όλα τα μικρά ή μεγάλα βήματα που εξυπηρετούν τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα. Κατά πόσο όμως είναι αρκετό;
Την Κυριακή 13 Δεκεμβρίου, ο πρώτος όροφος του Bοοze γέμισε με κόσμο. Oι Proud Seniors Greece, μια αυτοοργανωμένη ομάδα lgbtqi ηλικιωμένων και μη αυτοεξυπηρετούμενων ατόμων έκανε την πρώτη της επίσημη παρουσίαση που λειτούργησε σαν κάλεσμα εθελοντών και υποστηρικτών ώστε να αυξήσει τα μέλη της και να συστηματοποιήσει τη δράση της. Παρά την αρχική έκπληξη – πόσοι, άραγε, φαντάζονταν ότι στην Ελλάδα θα μπορούσε να δημιουργηθεί  μια ομάδα για lgbtqi ηλικιωμένους – γρήγορα αντιλαμβάνεται κανείς την κρισιμότητα και το μέγεθος του κενού που επιχειρεί να καλύψει με τη δράση της.
Proud Seniors Greece 1
«Η ιδέα για την ομάδα προέκυψε για πρώτη φορά πριν ένα χρόνο, αλλά το περασμένο καλοκαίρι με αφορμή το κίνημα για τη στήριξη της Νανάς Χατζή, πέρασε από τη θεωρία στην πράξη. Η «βάση» της οργάνωσης είναι στην Αθήνα αλλά υπάρχουν υποστηρικτικές μονάδες στη Θεσσαλονίκη και την Κρήτη», εξηγεί ο Γιάννος Κανελλόπουλος, ιδρυτικό μέλος της ομάδας. «Σε ένα κρατικό σύστημα υγείας ήδη προβληματικό, η κατάσταση για τα ηλικιωμένα άτομα της κοινότητας και ιδιαίτερα τους τρανς είναι δραματική. Συχνά αυτά τα άτομα ζουν μόνα τους, χωρίς οικογένεια και οικονομική στήριξη και βιώνουν ρατσισμό για πολλά χαρακτηριστικά τους όπως το φύλο, η διαφορετικότητα και η ηλικία τους. Δεν έχουν πού να στραφούν και καταδικάζονται στην απομόνωση. Γι’ αυτό και εμείς θέλουμε να δημιουργήσουμε γι’ αυτά τα άτομα ένα safe place, όπου θα μπορούν να απευθυνθούν, να λάβουν ιατρική και ψυχολογική βοήθεια και στήριξη και να μην αισθάνονται μοναξιά ή μειονία ».
Ο κόσμος ολοένα και πληθαίνει στο χώρο, που έχει διαμορφωθεί με καναπέδες και τραπέζια και δίνει την ζεστή αίσθηση ενός σπιτικού σαλονιού. Στο μπαρ προσφέρεται μικρός μπουφές, και δίπλα έχει στηθεί ένα μικρό πωλητήριο από την ομάδα Οικογένειες Ουράνιο Τόξο που υποστηρίζουν τα δικαιώματα των ομόφυλων ζευγαριών στη δημιουργία οικογένειας.Η βραδιά ξεκινάει με την προβολή της ταινίας μικρού μήκους Island of Dreams, που έχει θέμα τη φανταστική δημιουργία ενός lgbt queer γηροκομείου. Κάθομαι δίπλα σε δύο άνδρες που κρατιούνται από το χέρι. Μοιάζουν γύρω στα 60.
«Είμαστε ζευγάρι εδώ και 36 χρόνια», μου λέει ο Μιχάλης. «Είμαστε και οι δύο πάνω από 60 και γνωριστήκαμε στην Ελλάδα. Έχουμε ένα μαγαζί μαζί – ένα μπαρ που δεν είναι γκέι μπαρ. Οι φίλοι και οι συγγενείς μας το ήξεραν από την αρχή και είναι η αλήθεια ότι δεν αντιμετωπίσαμε ποτέ ιδιαίτερες δυσκολίες. Είμαστε παρέα με τρία-τέσσερα ζευγάρια φίλων που δεν είναι ομοφυλόφιλοι και βγαίνουμε όλοι μαζί. Γενικά θεωρούμε την ελληνική κοινωνία αρκετά προοδευτική. Όσο για το σύμφωνο, αν τελικά ψηφιστεί, ναι, θα το κάνουμε». Πάντως σε αυτή την κυριακάτικη εκδήλωση, δεν είναι η τρίτη ηλικία που επικρατεί, αντιθέτως το κοινό καλύπτει μεγάλο ηλικιακό φάσμα φτάνοντας, ξεκινώντας από νεαρό φοιτητόκοσμο.
Το πάνελ που στήθηκε για τη βραδιά. Στα αριστερά ο Γιάννος Κανελλόπουλος, ιδρυτικό μέλος των Proud Seniors Greece
Το πάνελ που στήθηκε για τη βραδιά. Στα αριστερά ο Γιάννος Κανελλόπουλος, ιδρυτικό μέλος των Proud Seniors Greece
Στο μεταξύ η ταινία έχει τελειώσει και έχει ετοιμαστεί το πάνελ με τους ομιλητές. Ο Μιχάλης Λάβδας, ψυχολόγος στην ΕΠΑΨΥ (Εταιρεία Περιφερειακής Ανάπτυξης και Ψυχικής Υγείας), η Βάσω Φενέκου κλινική, ψυχολόγος υποψήφια διδάκτορας του Α.Π.Θ, η Φρόσω Σημαδοπούλου τελειόφοιτος ψυχολογίας του Α.Π.Θ και η Μαριλένα Γάτσιου, τελειόφοιτος στην Κοινωνική Ανθρωπολογία του τμήματος Ιστορίας Αρχαιολογίας και Κοινωνικής ανθρωπολογίας του Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλίας και ο Γιάννος των Proud Seniors αναλαμβάνουν μέσα από διαφορετικές πτυχές να εξετάσουν το ζήτημα του lgbtqi aging και τις επιπλέον παραμέτρους που προσθέτει στο ήδη φλέγον ζήτημα της αντιμετώπισης αυτής της κοινότητας.

«Αυτά που καθιστούν κάποιον ως άνθρωπο, είναι τα στοιχεία της ταυτότητάς του και αυτά πρέπει να μπορεί να τα διατηρήσει ακέραια. Δεν κάνουμε λόγο εδώ για την κουλτούρα της φιλανθρωπίας που ενδεχομένως να υπονοεί μια αδυναμία του άλλου, ζητάμε την αντιμετώπιση προς τα άτομα σαν ισότιμα υποκείμενα δικαίου», λέει ο Μιχάλης Λάβδας. Οι ομιλητές κάνουν λόγο για έναν «αόρατο πληθυσμό» που ζει κρυμμένος και φοβισμένος. «Γι’ αυτό θέλουμε να δημιουργήσουμε έναν ασφαλή χώρο όπου δεν θα φοβούνται να εκφραστούν, θα νιώθουν άνετα και οικεία και παράλληλα ένα δίκτυο βοήθειας για ιατρικά θέματα. Πιστεύουμε πραγματικά ότι θα αλλάξει κάτι και θέλουμε να γίνουμε μέρος αυτής της αλλαγής», μου λέει ο Ηλίας Μυρσινιάς, μέλος των Proud Seniors Greece και συντονιστής των ομιλητών. «Βρισκόμαστε ήδη σε επαφή με άλλες Ευρωπαϊκές χώρες, έχουμε τη στήριξη της Φιλανδίας και ελπίζουμε σε μια άμεση συνεργασία με αντίστοιχη ομάδα της Τουρκίας για να συντονίσουμε τη δράση μας», προσθέτει ο Γιάννος από το πάνελ.
Οι ομιλητές συζητούν
Οι ομιλητές συζητούν
Τα σχόλια για το σύμφωνο συμβίωσης είναι κατά κύριο λόγο θετικά, αλλά συνοδεύονται από έναν εμφανή προβληματισμό. «Είναι σίγουρα καλύτερο από το τίποτα, αλλά εμάς δεν μας καλύπτει σε καμία περίπτωση», λέει η Στέλλα Μπελιά, υπεύθυνη των Οικογενειών Ουράνιο Τόξο. «Η σύντροφός μου δεν μπορεί να συνοδέψει τα παιδιά στο νοσοκομείο, ούτε να ταξιδέψει μαζί τους – στα χαρτιά, είναι σαν τα έχει απαγάγει. Είναι διάκριση αυτό προς τα παιδιά τα ίδια. Είναι πολύ πίσω κατά την άποψή μου η κοινωνία σε αυτό τον τομέα». Ο Γρηγόρης Βαλλιανάτος που παρακολουθεί την εκδήλωση χαρακτηρίζει το σύμφωνο ως «επανάσταση για την ελληνική κοινωνία, αφού το σεξ πίσω από τους θάμνους γίνεται τώρα -ας πούμε- οικογένεια. Ωστόσο, είναι πολύ λιγότερο από αυτό που θα περίμενε κάποιος από μια αριστερή κυβέρνηση που προέβαλλε μια πολλά υποσχόμενη ατζέντα- κάνει μόνο ένα από τα τόσα άλλα που είχε υποσχεθεί. Παρ’ όλα αυτά είναι ένα πρώτο βήμα και είναι ιδιαίτερα παρήγορο το ότι δημιουργήθηκε μια ομάδα για την τρίτη ηλικία σε μια εποχή που η μόδα μας θέλει όλους νιάτα».
Proud Seniors Greece
Οι ομιλητές ολοκληρώνουν την παρουσίαση και ξεκινά ο διάλογος με το κοινό. Κάποιοι καταθέτουν μαρτυρίες, άλλοι ρωτούν για τις δράσεις, ορισμένοι ζητούν διευκρινίσεις. «Είχαμε περιστατικά όπου σε παρόμοια συνάντηση, άνθρωποι πηδούσαν από το μπαλκόνι του πρώτου ορόφου, για να μην τους δει ο όποιος γνωστός τους που τύχαινε να μπει στο χώρο. Αυτή είναι η έννοια του στίγματος», λέει ένας άνδρας. Ανάμεσα στο κοινό βρίσκονται και μέλη συγγενικών ομάδων, όπως η Χρυσούλα που είναι συντονίστρια του Ομίλου Υποστήριξης της Colour Youth κοινότητας lgbt νέων. «Το σύμφωνο είναι απλώς ένα πρώτο βήμα. Δεν θεωρώ την ελληνική κοινωνία έτοιμη αλλά η αλήθεια είναι ότι από μόνη της δεν γίνεται να ετοιμαστεί και κάποιες φορές η αλλαγή πρέπει να έρθει από κάτω προς τα πάνω. Είναι πολύ σημαντική η κίνηση των Seniors γιατί έτσι καλύπτεται στην Ελλάδα όλο το ηλικιακό φάσμα» λέει και τονίζει ότι μία από τις σημαντικότερες δράσεις της Colour Youth είναι το «Πες το σε μας» που καταγράφει περιστατικά ομοφοβικής βίας.
Η εκδήλωση πλησιάζει στο τέλος της και στο χώρο πλανιέται η αίσθηση ενός ελπιδοφόρου δεσίματος. Όλοι τονίζουν τη σημασία της ευαισθητοποίησης, της βοήθειας, της εξέλιξης προς ένα μέλλον πιο ισότιμο και απελευθερωμένο. Ο Χρήστος, που στέκεται δίπλα μου και έχει παρακολουθήσει με ενδιαφέρον όλη την εκδήλωση δέχεται να μου συστηθεί καθώς αποχαιρετιόμαστε, δίνοντας άθελά του τον ιδανικό επίλογο της βραδιάς. «Είμαι γιατρός και δεν ανήκω στην lgbtqi κοινότητα. Είμαι εδώ γιατί έχω δει τέτοια περιστατικά στο νοσοκομείο, το πώς αυτοί οι άνθρωποι δέχονται ρατσισμό και αντιμετωπίζονται σαν μιάσματα. Με προβληματίζει ο συντηρητισμός της ελληνικής κοινωνίας, το κράτος θα έπρεπε να προστατεύει αυτές τις κατηγορίες. Έχω έρθει με άλλους συναδέλφους μου και θέλουμε να βοηθήσουμε, για να αντιμετωπίζονται αυτοί οι άνθρωποι με σεβασμό όπως αξίζει σε όλους. Παρά την οικονομική και ηθική κρίση, πιστεύω ότι η αγάπη μπορεί να τα βελτιώσει όλα».














proudseniorsΜε χαρά σας προσκαλούμε στην πρώτη ανοιχτή παρουσίαση της ομάδας υποστήριξης ηλικιωμένων και μη αυτοεξυπηρετούμενων ατόμων, ProudSeniorsGreece.
Η βραδιά θα πραγματοποιηθεί την Κυριακή 13/12/2015 και ώρα 8:30μμ, στον πολυχώρο Boozecooperative Κολοκοτρώνη 57, Μοναστηράκι, στον πρώτο όροφο του χώρου.  
Σκοπός της βραδιάς είναι η γνωριμία της ομάδας ProudSeniorsGreece με τις αντίστοιχες λοιπές lgbtqi ομάδες της Αθήνας, αλλά και το να πραγματοποιήσουμε  κάλεσμα νέων μελών εθελοντών και εθελοντριών για την άμεση στήριξη της ομάδας μας.
Στα πλαίσια της βραδιάς θα προβληθεί η ταινία Island of Dreams (2015), παρουσία των συντελεστών, η οποία πραγματεύεται μια φανταστική περιγραφή ενός lgbtqi queer γηροκομείου. Παράλληλα με τη βοήθεια των καλεσμένων ομιλητών & ομιλητριών θα προσπαθήσουμε να ξετυλίξουμε το θέμα των γηρατειών στη lgbtqi κοινότητα από τη θεωρία στην πράξη.
Στο πάνελ των ομιλητών/τριών καλεσμένοι είναι: ο Μιχάλης Λάβδας ψυχολόγος ΕΠΑΨΥ, η Βάσω Φενεκού κλινική ψυχολόγος, η Φρόσω Σημαδοπούλουτελειόφοιτος ψυχολογίας του ΑΠΘ, η Μαριλένα Γάτσιου τελειόφοιτος στην κοινωνική ανθρωπολογία, στο τμήμα ιστορίας αρχαιολογίας και κοινωνικής ανθρωπολογίας του πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλίας και ο Γιάννος Κανελλόπουλος πρόεδρος των Proud Seniors Greece.
Επίσης θα υπάρχει πλήρης διερμηνεία στην Ελληνική νοηματική γλώσσα από τον Ματθαίο Φουφουδάκη. Τον συντονισμό των ομιλιών έχει αναλάβει ο Ηλίας Μυρσινιάς.


Γερνάμε και πεθαίνουμε... και ποι@ς νοιάζεται; Όταν η "οικογένεια" μας έχει ξεγράψει γιατί είμαστε τα "μαύρα πρόβατα" Όταν η Πολιτεία δεν έχει ίχνος ευαισθησίας και η λέξη "Πρόνοια" είναι πληγή στην αξιοπρέπεια του κάθε ανθρώπου ανεξάρτητα από τον σεξουαλικό του προσανατολισμό και την ταυτότητα φύλου του Όταν ο/η σύντροφος μας έχει φύγει είτε με άλλον/άλλη είτε γιατί έχει φύγει από τη ζωή. Όταν τα παιδιά μας έχουν τις δικές τους οικογένειες και ελάχιστο χρόνο για "τα γεροντάκια" Ποι@ς νοιάζεται αν δεν υπάρχει ίχνος αλληλεγγύης μέσα στην ίδια την κοινότητά μας; Αυτές τις ανησυχίες και αυτούς τους προβληματισμούς ήρθε να καλύψει η ομάδα Proud Seniors Greece και η πρώτη της ανοιχτή εκδήλωση είναι στις 13 Δεκεμβρίου. Θα βρεθούμε κι εμείς εκεί γιατί πιστεύουμε στην "κοινότητα" και θέλουμε η αλληλεγγύη να γίνει το όπλο μας.



                          Σου λέει με λίγα λόγια: Δεν πολυξέρω για τι πράμα μιλάς αλλά η δική μου άγνοια δεν        
                            μπορεί να εμποδίζει άλλους ανθρώπους από το να ζουν ευτυχισμένα.





The Trans*Guest House Project
TheTrans*Guest House is a home for trans* who are currently in a bad situation, currently no place to stay, trans* and LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers from North –Africa and the Middle East, threatened by violence or LGBTIQ who are in bad health condition. It is also a retired home where Trans* and lgbiq will receive health treatment and find a non-violent space. Trans* are not always young and they have mostly no health insurance; In Turkey Trans* die in the streets when they are old because they are expelled by their families, the state, the society.
It is a project run by experienced Trans* for LGBTIQ providing a safe and sustainable shelter. it is a self created, self help structure. It supports strategies to protect vulnerable LGBTQI Refugees and asylum seekers.
We have received applications from trans* and gay individuals from Middle East who do not have a guarantee for their lives and had to flee to Turkey. United Nations Refugee Office and Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees Association has started to direct all LGBTQI individuals to our office. Especially the civil war in Syria and radical Islam groups and their trans/homophobic crimes towards LGBTİ individuals directs them to Turkey.
The first Trans * Guest House in Turkey called CingeneGül Guest House (CingeneGül was murdered in 2014) was established by Istanbul LGBTT  asa shelter in Istanbul with only our own resources, a lot of voluntary work and the big solidarity of trans* community. Within these three years we have received a lot of request beyond shelter´s capacity and have assessed the significant needs of a sustainable legal and medical support and networking. At the same time we have also evaluated the lack of education of the administrative, legal and health related professionals (like municipality staff, doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers...) on LGBTIQ situation and -rights.
In 2014 we have opened the second Trans*Guest House, called EylülCansin Guest House  (EylülCansin committed suicide by jumping from the Bosphorus Bridge on 5 January 2015) with the help of the trans* community, Öykü Ay and the Trans* Angles who supported our project by hosting a big event to fundraise the rent for one year.

Within the project we increased the shelter´s capacity and embed the shelter in a sustainable frame: We are empowering 60 lgbtiq people in their rights and abilities and provide treatment of traumata. We are following up to 30 hate crime cases and the cases of the refugees with a lawyer. Additionally we are raising the awareness to hate crimes in 4 cities and train up to 60 doctors, lawyers, teachers, municipality stuff... about hate crimes. We are installing a networking consisting of lawyers, doctors, nurses and psychologists in 4 cities.  A webpage for the trans* guest house was created and introduced to lgbtiq community. We also established a Trans* Rights Project with a telephone hotline for victims of hate crimes which is available 24 hours every day  +90 538 560 32 22

Istanbul LGBTT DayanışmaDerneği




The Trans*Guest House Project
Το Trans*Guest House είναι ένα σπίτι για άτομα τρανς που διανύουν μία δύσκολη φάση στη ζωή τους, χωρίς να έχουν χώρο διαμονής. Επίσης απευθύνεται σε άτομα Τρανς* και LGBTQI πρόσφυγες και αιτούντες άσυλο από τη Βόρεια Αφρική και τη Μέση Ανατολή που απειλούνται από τη βία ή LGBTQI άτομα που αντιμετωπίζουν προβλήματα με την υγεία τους. Ακόμη λειτουργεί και ως οίκος ευγηρίας όπου άτομα Τρανς* και LGBTQI λαμβάνουν φροντίδα υγείας και βρίσκουν έναν ασφαλή χώρο όπου δεν απειλούνται από τη βία. Τα άτομα Τρανς* δεν είναι πάντα νεαρής ηλικίας και οι περισσότεροι δεν έχουν καθόλου ασφάλεια υγείας˙ Στην Τουρκία τα άτομα Τρανς* πεθαίνουν στους δρόμους όταν μεγαλώσουν, εξόριστοι από τις οικογένειές τους, το κράτος και την κοινωνία.
Είναι ένα project που το λειτουργούν άτομα Τρανς* με εμπειρία στην παροχή ενός ασφαλούς και βιώσιμου καταφυγίου. Είναι μια αυτοοργανωμένη δομή αυτοβοήθειας. Υποστηρίζει στρατηγικές για την προστασία ευάλωτων LGBTQI Προσφύγων και Αιτούντων άσυλο.
Έχουμε λάβει αιτήματα από τρανς* και gay άτομα από τη Μέση Ανατολή οι οποίοι δεν έχουν καμία εγγύηση για τη ζωή τους και καταφεύγουν στην Τουρκία. Το United Nations Refugee Office and Solidarity with Immigrants and Refugees Association καθώς και Σύλλογοι Προσφύγουν έχουν αρχίσει να κατευθύνουν όλα τα άτομα LGBTQI στο γραφείο μας. Οι συνθήκες εμφυλίου στη Συρία αλλά και τα τρανσφοβικά και ομοφοβικά εγκλήματα σε βάρος ατόμων LGBTQI από ριζοσπασικές ισλαμικές ομάδες συμβάλλουν στην όλο και μεγαλύτερη ροή των προσφύγων προς την Τουρκία.
Το πρώτο Trans*Guest House στην Τουρκία ονομάζεται CingeneGül Guest House (ο CingeneGül δολοφονήθηκε το 2014) και ιδρύθηκε από την LGBTT ομάδα της Κωνσταντινούπολης ως καταφύγιο που λειτουργούσε με τα δικά του μέσα, την εθελοντική δουλειά και την αλληλεγγύη της τρανς* κοινότητας. Μέσα σε 3 χρόνια έχουμε λάβει πολλά αιτήματα που ξεπερνούν τις διαθέσιμες θέσεις στον Ξενώνα και ανταποκριθήκαμε σε ανάγκες που αφορούσαν στη διασύνδεση με νομική και ιατρική υποστήριξη. Παράλληλα, έχουμε αξιολογήσει την έλλειψη επαρκούς εκπαίδευσης και ενημέρωσης σε θέματα LGBTQI και δικαιωμάτων στους εργαζομένους σε διοικητικές ή νομικές υπηρεσίες (προσωπικό στην Τοπική Αυτοδιοίκηση, Δικηγόροι, Δάσκαλοι) αλλά και στους Επαγγελματίες Υγείας (Ιατρούς, Νοσηλευτές).
Το 2014 ξεκινήσαμε τη λειτουργία του δεύτερου Trans*Guest House που ονομάστηκε EylülCansin Guest House (ο EylülCansin αυτοκτόνησε πηδώντας από τη γέφυρα του Βοσπόρου στις 5 Ιανουαρίου 2015). Σημαντική βοήθεια παρασχέθηκε από την τρανς* κοινότητα, την οργάνωση Öykü Ay και Trans* Angles που υποστήριξαν το project οργανώνοντας μία μεγάλη εκδήλωση με στόχο το fundraising για την κάλυψη του ενοικίου για ένα χρόνο.

Στο πλαίσιο του project έχουμε αυξήσει τη χωρητική δυνατότητα στέγασης αλλά και την ένταξή του Ξενώνα σε ένα βιώσιμο πλαίσιο. Έχουμε ενδυναμώσει 60 άτομα LGBTQI σε θέματα δικαιωμάτων αλλά και στην παροχή φροντίδας σε τραυματικά βιώματα.  Παρακολουθούμε την εξέλιξη 30 εγκλημάτων μίσους και τις περιπτώσεις των προσφύγων με έναν δικηγόρο. Επιπρόσθετα, έχουμε κάνει δράσεις για την ευαισθητοποίηση σε θέματα εγκλημάτων μίσους σε 4 πόλεις εκπαιδεύοντας 60 γιατρούς, δικηγόρους, δασκάλους και προσωπικό της Τοπικής Αυτοδιοίκησης για τα θέματα αυτά. Δημιουργούμε ένα δίκτυο από δικηγόρους, γιατρούς, νοσηλευτές και ψυχολόγους σε 4 πόλεις. Δημιουργήσαμε μία ιστοσελίδα για το Trans*Guest House και έχει προωθηθεί στην LGBTQI κοινότητα. Επίσης λειτουργούμε το Trans* project για τα Δικαιώματα με τηλεφωνική γραμμή για θύματα εγκλημάτων μίσους που είναι διαθέσιμη 24 ώρες τη μέρα, κάθε μέρα στο τηλέφωνο +90 538 560 32 22

Istanbul LGBTT DayanışmaDerneği



Internalized gay ageism, mattering, and depressive symptoms among midlife and older gay-identified men


Highlights

Midlife and older gay men are subject to feeling depreciated and socially invisible.
Internalized gay ageism is the confluence of ageism and homophobia among gay men.
Internalized gay ageism is positively associated with depressive symptoms.
One's sense of “mattering” offsets the health effect of internalized gay ageism.
Internalized gay ageism is a unique, underexplored form of sexual minority stress.

Abstract

Objective

In this paper we introduce the construct of “internalized gay ageism,” or the sense that one feels denigrated or depreciated because of aging in the context of a gay male identity, which we identify as an unexplored aspect of sexual minority stress specific to midlife and older gay-identified men.

Methods

Using a social stress process framework, we examine the association between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptoms, and whether one's sense of mattering mediates or moderates this association, controlling for three decades of depressive symptom histories. The sample is 312 gay-identified men (average age = 60.7 years, range = 48–78, 61% HIV-negative) participating in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) since 1984/85, one of the largest and longest running studies of the natural history of HIV/AIDS in the U.S., who provided contemporary (2012/13) reports of stress experiences.

Results

We find that internalized gay ageism can reliably be measured among these men, is positively associated with depressive symptoms net of an array of other factors that may also influence symptomatology (including depressive symptom histories), and mattering partially mediates but does not moderate its effect on depressive symptoms.

Conclusion

Midlife and older gay men have traversed unparalleled historical changes across their adult lives and have paved the way for younger generations of sexual minorities to live in a time of less institutionalized discrimination. Still, they are at distinct risk for feeling socially invisible and devalued in their later years.

Keywords

  • Gay men
  • Ageism
  • Homophobia
  • Mattering
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Minority stress

1. Introduction

This study examines whether “internalized gay ageism”– feeling denigrated or depreciated because one is aging as a gay man – is associated with depressive symptoms among a sample of midlife and older gay-identified men. We further examine whether one's sense of “mattering” affects any relationship between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptomatology. This study introduces the construct of internalized gay ageism and examines its role as a relevant minority stressor within a social stress process framework.


1.1. Ageism and homophobia

Ageism can broadly be defined as “prejudice and discrimination against older people based on the belief that aging makes people less attractive, intelligent, sexual, and productive” (Wilkinson and Ferraro, 2002). Thus, ageism, as experienced by older adults, is explicit, e.g., age discrimination in hiring practices, and implicit, e.g., biased attitudes and stigmas toward older persons (Levy, 2001). Ageism is socially tolerated for the most part (Levy and Banaji, 2002), which is surprising given the steadily and rapidly growing numbers of older persons in the U.S. (Hess et al., 2009). In the social stress process literature, ageism – age discrimination in particular – is considered one of the many forms of “discrimination stress” (along with stress experiences associated with gender, race-ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, etc.) that may exceed individuals' adaptive capacities, leading to distress (Thoits, 2010). In addition, ageism has the potential to become a chronic social stressor in the lives of older adults (Allen, 2015). Ageism is internalized to the extent that negative social stereotypes about aging become incorporated into the older individual's self-identification (Allen, 2015Emlet, 2006 and Kooden, 1997), representing a form of stress that can lead to negative physical and mental health outcomes (e.g., Allen, 2015Levy et al., 2002 and Sabik, 2015). Most forms of explicit age discrimination (e.g., in housing, employment) are illegal at the federal level in the United States but implicit and internalized ageism are normative and remain ongoing sources of stress.
In comparison, homophobia generally is defined as societal or interpersonal stigma and prejudice directed at gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons (Herek, 2004). Like ageism, it may become internalized to the extent that it influences how one sees and identifies oneself as a stigmatized member of society (Malyon, 1982). Internalized homophobia may be particularly germane to midlife and older gay men because these cohorts of men were pathologized in their younger years, before homosexuality per se was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973 (Krajeski, 1996). Their social identities also were tainted by AIDS stigmas when the AIDS epidemic emerged in the 1980s and gay men were subject to a negative societal response, regardless of their HIV serostatus (Herek and Capitanio, 1999). Internalized homophobia is one aspect of “sexual minority stress” (other aspects include feelings of sexual orientation stigma, experiences of discrimination, and sexual identity concealment [Meyer, 2003a and Meyer, 2003b]). Like internalized ageism, internalized homophobia has been shown to negatively affect health (Newcomb and Mustanski, 2010). Unlike internalized ageism, homophobia appears to be declining in many parts of the U.S. (Altman et al., 2012) as part of the overall social enfranchisement of sexual minorities. Nonetheless, acceptance is far from universal and laws and policies discriminating against sexual minorities remain in effect in much of the country (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2011).

Thus, ageism is commonplace but age discrimination is illegal. Homophobia appears to be declining, although discrimination against sexual minorities is widely institutionalized and they face enduring stigma (Hatzenbuehler et al., 2010). Little is known about how the confluence of these two social phenomena – ageism and homophobia – may be jointly internalized among midlife and older gay men. A small body of work touches upon some of these issues. For example, it has been noted that some gay men may experience a sense of “accelerated aging,” or the feeling that they are old even when they are relatively young because youth and physical attractiveness are disproportionately valued in the gay male community (Grant, 2010 and Schope, 2005). Feelings of “accelerated aging” may mostly be applicable to gay men who are single and looking for sexual partners (Hostetler, 2012) or who are actively involved in gay sexual subcultures (Kertzner, 2001). Regardless, many older gay men endure a particular sting associated with natural aging processes because they often feel ignored within the gay male community (IOM, 2011).
In addition, there is a persisting stereotype of the “predatory older homosexual” who preys upon younger men and boys (Knauer, 2009). This view is partially a carry-over from laws put into place decades ago to segregate homosexual men from children and is based upon the discredited belief that there is an inherent pedophilia in homosexuality (Jacobson, 1998). Thus, midlife and older gay men came of age during a time when they may have been discouraged or legally prevented from interacting with young people based on the illusory correlation between being gay and a sexual attraction toward children. This enduring stereotype may blemish societal perceptions of mature gay men, complicating their social interactions, even within the gay community (Knauer, 2009 and Wahler and Gabbay, 1997).
In summary, due to experiences of internalized ageism and homophobia, midlife and older gay men may be exposed to unique, previously unexamined sources of stress. Such experiences may exacerbate aging-related problems and place them at elevated risk for poor mental health. We hypothesize that the particular overlap between internalized ageism and internalized homophobia among midlife and older gay men generates “internalized gay ageism.”

1.2. Social stress process: internalized gay ageism, mattering, and mental health

Social stress process theory posits that exposure to stressors leads to the experience of stress, which then may lead to distress or mental disorder (Pearlin et al., 1981). We conceptualize internalized gay ageism as a social stressor that is uniquely harmful to gay men's mental health. Moreover, internalized gay ageism is conceived of as a particular source of minority stress because it uniquely affects a stigmatized or marginalized population (Meyer, 2003b) – midlife and older gay men.
Prior studies show that psychosocial resources may ameliorate the negative health effects of multiple forms of social stress (Thoits, 2011), including sexual minority stress (e.g., Lehavot and Simoni, 2011Szymanski and Owens, 2008 and Wight et al., 2012). One's sense of “mattering” is such a resource. Mattering refers to the degree to which people feel they are an important part of the world around them (Rosenberg and McCullough, 1981Taylor and Turner, 2001 and Elliott et al., 2004). Mattering, or at least the perception of mattering, is profoundly important to one's sense of self, and appears to be distinguishable from self-consciousness, self-esteem, self-monitoring, alienation, and perceived social support. A key differentiation between mattering and these other concepts is that it refers to one's subjective feelings of being significant to other people, feelings that may guard against existential despair ( Thoits, 2011). People with a high sense of mattering feel that others think about them, seek their advice, or care about what happens to them. In contrast, those with a low sense of mattering feel that others do not share themselves meaningfully, do not listen, and do not find them interesting ( Elliott et al., 2004). There is evidence to suggest that sense of mattering declines with age (Fazio, 2010), meaning that older individuals may not realize its benefits at a time of life when it would be most useful. Yet, mattering has received relatively little empirical attention in social stress research ( Thoits, 2011).


Many midlife and older gay men feel they are socially invisible (Knauer, 2009) and dually stigmatized for both being gay and older (de Vries, 2014 and Fredriksen-Goldsen and Muraco, 2010). Moreover, they face a gay subculture that celebrates youth, vigor, and physical beauty (Grant, 2010). They are also more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to live alone (Wallace et al., 2011). We contend that these day-to-day realities – isolation, invisibility, and devaluation – make mattering especially relevant to gay men as they age. Collectively they may diminish mattering in its two most fundamental forms: (a) reducing the degree to which these men feel they are the focus of attention from others; and (b) minimizing the degree to which their interpersonal relationships reward them with the feeling that they are important to another, or that another relies on them for the satisfaction of their own wants or needs (Elliott et al., 2004). Mattering may be an important psychosocial resource that acts as a mechanism through which internalized gay ageism influences mental health.

1.3. Conceptual framework

As shown in Fig. 1, we hypothesize a “focal relationship” between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptoms in our social stress process model. A focal relationship is the foundation from which the theory driving a key association is tested and from which further tests of alternative explanations of that association can be evaluated (Aneshensel, 2013). We account for multiple background characteristics that may represent alternative explanations for the focal relationship. Accounting for these “essential controls” (Wheaton and Clarke, 2003) is part of an exclusionary strategy that helps rule out a spurious (i.e., false) focal relationship and enhances the hypothesized causal inference in the model (Aneshensel, 2013). Essential controls include characteristics such as relationship status, education, age cohort, health status, and area of residence.
Conceptual framework.
Fig. 1.
Conceptual framework.
As shown in Fig. 1, we additionally control for historical patterns of depressive symptoms. Population-based studies have shown heterogeneity in depressive symptom patterns across the life course (Liang et al., 2011 and Montagnier et al., 2014), with some persons remaining relatively stable and others demonstrating substantial fluctuation over time. Recent work has chronicled how such depressive symptom histories are associated with current depressive symptomatology among these midlife and older gay men (Wight et al., 2015). In essence, it has been demonstrated that patterns of stability and change in depressive symptoms over nearly 30 years (e.g., being stably high or becoming more symptomatic over time) are largely at the root of current symptoms. Indeed, taking depressogenic histories into account may weaken the effects of risk factors that otherwise would be significant predictors of symptomatology (Kessler, 1997). In addition to being informative of an individual's predisposition to depressive symptomatology, adjusting for these historical patterns helps to clarify the causal direction of stress and mental health associations by reducing concerns about reverse causation.

Fig. 1 also illustrates how mattering is conceptualized as an “intervening variable” because it may at least partly transmit or generate the association between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptoms. Mattering is a viable mediator of our focal relationship if the following basic criteria are met ( Baron and Kenny, 1986): (a) internalized gay ageism is significantly associated with depressive symptoms; (b) internalized gay ageism is significantly associated with mattering; and (c) mattering is significantly associated with depressive symptoms when internalized gay ageism is controlled. Additionally, mattering may moderate our focal relationship if the effect of internalized gay ageism is conditional or dependent upon levels of mattering, meaning that the depressive effect of internalized gay ageism varies across different levels of mattering. In Fig. 1, a diamond-headed line illustrates this moderating or “stress buffering” effect.
Thus, we examine whether internalized gay ageism is associated with depressive symptoms independent of essential controls and prior depressive symptom histories, and whether this focal relationship is mediated and/or moderated by one's sense of mattering.

2. Methods

2.1. The sample

Data are from two sources. The first was collected over three decades (beginning in 1984/85) from participants of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) (Detels et al., 1992), one of the largest and longest running studies of the natural history of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. The original sample comprised homosexual/bisexual men who were aged 18 years and older and showed no signs of AIDS illness when the study began (additional cohorts recruited for separate studies subsequent to 1984/85 are not included in this study). HIV had not yet been named or identified in 1984 and there was no test for the virus. As a result, both HIV-negative and HIV-positive men were enrolled, making this a historical sample of gay/bisexual men in general. A variety of recruitment techniques were used to enroll men in four U.S. metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago, and Pittsburgh; baseline n = 4954) and the data for this study are from the Los Angeles study site (baseline n = 1637; 49.5% were subsequently determined to have been HIV-positive). Additional methodological details of the original MACS have been published previously ( Kaslow et al., 1987). Most surviving MACS participants have been assessed (e.g., physical exam, biomarker collection, interview administration) biannually since the study's inception, except as described below, for a maximum of 58 completed visits at the time of this analysis. Over the lengthy course of the study some participants have opted to limit their participation to providing blood samples only, many have died from HIV/AIDS-related disease (Los Angeles n = 680) or other causes (Los Angelesn = 109), and some have been lost to other forms of attrition. Beginning at visit 23 (in 1995), temporary censoring of some low-risk HIV-negative participants was implemented for budgetary reasons (Los Angeles n = 536). Nearly half of these censored participants were re-entered to the study beginning at visit 36 in 2001 (Los Angelesn = 239). If a participant relocated to an area near one of the other MACS study sites, they were asked to continue participation at that site. Thus, the sample size for the Los Angeles MACS is variable, subject to ongoing attrition, re-entry, and participant relocation.
The second data source is The Aging Stress and Health among Gay Men Study (ASH-GM), a contemporary survey of these same Los Angeles-based MACS participants conducted over a 9 month period in 2012/13, the time span comprising MACS visit 58. The total number of Los-Angeles-based MACS participants eligible for this visit, including those who were originally from one of the other three MACS sites but subsequently relocated to the Los Angeles area, was 498. Participants were invited to complete a paper and pencil survey, which required approximately 30–40 min. Most were handed the survey at their usual visit and asked to complete and return it within 30 days. The survey was mailed to Los Angeles-based participants who moved out of the area entirely or who only agreed to be contacted about MACS sub-studies, and to those who missed having it offered to them at their regular study visit. Participants were provided with incentive gift cards.
In all, 433 surveys were distributed and 342 were returned (78.98% return rate). Of these, 30 were excluded from the current study because of ineligibility (e.g., did not self-identify as gay). The final analytic sample size is 312.
This research was approved by the UCLA Office of the Human Research Protection Program (Medical Institutional Review Board 1).

2.2. Stress measures

Internalized Gay Ageism was developed from a pilot study conducted with a sub-sample of 202 UCLA MACS participants prior to ASH-GM implementation. After a series of questions regarding sexual minority and aging-related stress, participants were asked, “Are there any comments you would like to make about how stressful these types of experiences may have been?” Based on a review of the responses, 6 items were created to form the new internalized gay ageism scale. Overall, the items assessed sentiments regarding concerns about aging as a gay man, worries about aging-related physical appearance, and feelings of invisibility within the gay community. Respondents were asked how much they agreed (1 = strongly agree) or disagreed (4 = strongly disagree) with the 6 items. Responses were averaged across items.
Table 1 presents descriptive statistics for the items comprising the internalized gay ageism scale. A factor loading of at least 0.40 was considered acceptable. Exploratory factor analysis indicated the items formed one factor, with an average factor loading of 0.50 (range = 0.40 to 0.66). The item with the highest average score was “As I get older, I feel good about myself as a gay man” and the item with the lowest average score was “Aging is especially hard for me because I am a gay man.” The scale demonstrated adequate reliability (α = 0.66), and the average score was indicative of “disagreement” with the statements (see Table 2) although each item demonstrated wide variability. The scale was normally distributed.
Table 1.
Descriptive statistics for the items comprising the internalized gay ageism scale.
How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements as they relate to your getting older as a gay man?aMean (SD)Factor loading
A. As I get older, I feel good about myself as a gay man3.41 (0.74)0.49
B. Aging is especially hard for me because I am a gay man2.08 (0.89)0.66
C. I am not too worried about looking older2.63 (0.83)0.40
D. As I get older, I feel more invisible when I am with other gay men2.59 (0.84)0.52
E. I feel that older gay men are respected in the gay community2.30 (0.72)0.49
F. I feel pressured to try to look younger than my age2.28 (0.72)0.41
Total scoreb2.27 (0.49)
α0.66
Note. SD = Standard deviation.
a
Response categories: 1 = Strongly Disagree; 2 = Disagree; 3 = Agree; 4 = Strongly Agree.
b
After reverse coding items A, C, and E.
Table 2.
Sample characteristics of gay men aged 48–78 years in 2012/13 (n = 312).
Sample characteristics% or M (SD)

Background characteristics
Age, years60.67(6.27)
 Born before baby boom19.23
 Born during early baby boom41.67
 Born during late baby boom39.10
Non-Hispanic white90.38
≥4 years of college71.15
Employed full time42.31
HIV-status
 HIV-negative since baseline61.22
 HIV-positive at baseline24.68
 HIV-positive converted after baseline14.10
Self-rated excellent health18.91
Relationship status
 Same-sex married11.22
 Same-sex domestic partner10.58
 Same-sex committed relationship24.68
 Single46.79
 Other6.73
Grew up in Southern California25.64
Currently lives in Southern California79.17
Methodological controls
 UCLA original cohort89.10
 Temporarily censored38.78
Stress domains
 Internalized gay ageism (1–4)2.27(0.49)
 Ageism (0–7)1.79(1.75)
 Internalized homophobia (0–4)0.30(0.72)
 Mattering (1–4)3.24(0.65)
Mental health
 Depressive symptoms (0–60)11.84(11.17)
Ageism was a count of 7 items (developed specifically for this study) assessing any occurrence in the past year of the following acts or impressions attributed to one's age: bullied, made fun of by a stranger/strangers, ignored by others, called a derogatory name, rejected by younger people, not taken seriously, and treated like a child (α = 0.78). The score ranged from 0 to 7.
Internalized Homophobia was a count of 4 items adapted from Frost and Meyer (2009)assessing any occurrence in the past year of the following sentiments: felt it best to avoid personal or social involvement with gay people, tried to stop being attracted to men, felt that my sexual orientation was a personal shortcoming, and tried to become more sexually attracted to women (α = 0.68). The score ranged from 0 to 4.
Mattering was assessed with the 5-item Global Mattering Scale ( Marcus and Rosenberg, 1987), which assessed the degree to which (not at all [1] to a lot [4]) participants felt: important to other people, other people paid attention to them, others would miss them if they went away, people were interested in what they had to say, and depended on by other people (α = 0.89). Responses were averaged across items.


2.3. Depressive symptoms

Depressive symptoms were assessed with the 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D, Radloff, 1977), and included items such as “I felt depressed,” “I felt lonely,” and “I could not ‘get going.’” Participants were asked how often (0 [rarely or none of the time] to 3 [all of the time]) in the past week they experienced the symptom (visit 58 α = 0.89). Consistent with previous studies (e.g., Aneshensel et al., 1981), all CES-D scores were log transformed in the analyses (after adding a value of 1) to improve their non-normal distribution. CES-D data were collected at every MACS visit.

2.4. Control variables

2.4.1. Depressive symptom trajectories

For visits 1 through 57 (i.e., biannual data collected between 1984/85 and 2012/13) long-term trajectories of depressive symptoms were created (Wight et al., 2015). CES-D data were considered complete if the participant answered at least fifteen of the 20 items; in cases where 1 to 5 items were missing, the person's modal response for the other items at that visit was imputed (average number of imputed cases per visit = 5.61). If a participant was missing more than five CES-D items at a visit, they were coded as missing for that visit. The number of CES-D visits ranged from 4 to 57, with an average of 40.93. There was variation in the number who completed the CES-D at each visit, ranging from a maximum of 311 at visit 1 to a minimum of 150 at visits 32 and 35 (during censoring). The mean number of participants across all 57 preceding visits was 224.04. For visit 58 (n = 312) we use CES-D data collected as part of the ASH-GM survey.
To develop longitudinal depressive symptom trajectories, we used a latent class mixture model, which is a semi-parametric method that identifies distinctive clusters of relatively homogeneous individual trajectories of depressive symptoms over time (Jones et al., 2001 and Nagin and Odgers, 2010). Depressive symptoms since MACS baseline (visits 1–57) were operationalized as clusters of trajectories. Maximum likelihood estimates were obtained using the “traj” command in Stata, a customized version of the SAS “Proc Traj” command (Jones and Nagin, 2013), which also provides Bayesian Information Criteria (BIC) to determine the optimal number of groups with the most appropriate number of individuals per group (Jones et al., 2001). A minimum of three time points per participant is required to properly estimate a trajectory (Andruff et al., 2009). The latent class mixture model accommodates missing data but assumes it is random. Data are not missing at random in the current sample subsequent to the administrative censoring period, thus necessitating the inclusion of an indicator variable for censored vs. not in the elaborated OLS models. Baseline data (age, cohort, education, race/ethnicity, HIV-status) were included as risk factors for group membership in preliminary trajectory models but were not statistically significant and are not included in group modeling solutions. However, these variables are controlled in multivariate regression models (see below).
Fig. 2 shows the trajectories calculated for depressive symptoms over time (Wight et al., 2015). After examining BIC criterion, posterior probabilities (PP), and sample sizes for multiple group solutions, a five-group model was identified as best describing the data (BIC = −15578.82). The CES-D trajectories were operationalized as a series of dummy variables (i.e, belongs to trajectory group 1 yes/no, belongs to trajectory group 2 yes/no, etc.). The first group, chiefly asymptomatic (9.62%, n = 30), was initially lowest on symptoms and thereafter showed a slight decline. The second group, decelerating decrease (16.99%, n = 53), started with moderately high symptoms at baseline and showed a curvilinear decline (improvement) over the three decades. The third group,accelerating increase (21.15%, n = 66), started with similar levels of symptoms as the decelerating decrease group but, contrastingly, showed a curvilinear increase in symptoms over time. The fourth group, consistently high (34.29%, n = 107), was at the same high level of depressive symptomatology across the entire span of the study. The fifth group, high and worsening (17.95%, n = 56), displayed the highest depressive symptoms at baseline and showed an increase with time.
Three-decade depressive symptom trajectories among gay men aged 48–78 years in ...
Fig. 2.
Three-decade depressive symptom trajectories among gay men aged 48–78 years in 2012/13 (n = 312).

2.4.2. Background characteristics

As discussed above, our analyses control for multiple background factors (i.e., “essential controls”) that may influence the observed findings in an effort to rule out spuriousness, or false findings. Relationship status was assessed with a categorical measure: (a) same-sex registered domestic partnership; (b) same-sex legal marriage; (c) same-sex partnership with no legal status; (d) something else; and (e) single (the reference group). Area of residence was controlled (currently resides in Southern California, yes/no), as was area of origin (originally from Southern California, yes/no). Participant health was assessed as self-rated excellent health (yes/no). Other control variables were clinically assessed HIV status (HIV-positive at baseline, seroconverted from HIV-negative to HIV-positive during the study, HIV-negative throughout the study [the reference group]), current age (in years, to identify simple linear effects), cohort (pre-baby-boomer born before 1946 vs. baby boomer); non-Hispanic white vs. not, four or more years of college vs. not, and employed full time vs. not.

2.4.3. Methodological controls

Whether the participant was part of the original UCLA Los Angeles cohort vs. originally being enrolled at another study site (yes/no) and whether they were temporarily censored between 1995 and 2001 (yes/no) were included as methodological controls to account for study design issues that may influence findings.

2.5. Analysis: testing social stress process models

We used sequential ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models to assess theorized associations, based on the Elaboration Model (Aneshensel, 2013). First, the focal relationship between current depressive symptoms and internalized gay ageism was estimated. Next, ageism and internalized homophobia were included in the model to assess whether internalized gay ageism influenced depressive symptoms independent of the two constructs from which it was derived. Background variables were then controlled. CES-D trajectories were subsequently added to the model. Finally, mattering was added to test whether it mediated the association between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptoms, net of all controls. The Sobel test was used to assess the statistical significance (p ≤ 0.05) of any mediating effect ( Baron and Kenny, 1986 and Sobel, 1982). Interactions between internalized gay ageism and mattering (both mean centered) were also added to test for stress moderation or “buffering.” The Wald test sequentially assessed model fit by testing whether the effects for added variables significantly differed from zero. Minimal missing data (≤3.2%) were imputed with the mode.

3. Results

3.1. The sample

Sample characteristics are shown in Table 2. The average participant was 60 years old (range = 48–78 years) with nearly 20% born before the beginning of the baby boom period (i.e., before 1946). The majority were non-Hispanic white and college graduates. Less than half were employed full time. Most were HIV-negative, although one-quarter were HIV-positive at baseline in 1984/85 and 14% seroconverted between 1984/85 and 2012/13. Nearly one in five rated their health as excellent. Slightly less than half were single, around 10% were in same-sex marriages with a similar number being in domestic partnerships, and 25% were in a non-legally recognized same-sex relationship. One-quarter grew up in Southern California and nearly 80% currently resided in Southern California. Nine in ten participants were originally members of the UCLA MACS cohort and 38.78% were temporarily censored between 1995 and 2001. Both ageism and internalized homophobia were low and mattering was relatively high. The mean CES-D score at the time of the ASH-GM survey was 11.84, indicative of moderate levels of depressive symptoms.

3.2. The impact of internalized gay ageism on depressive symptoms

As shown in Table 3, Model 1, the focal relationship between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptoms was positive and statistically significant. Internalized gay ageism accounted for 18% of the variance in depressive symptoms. Model 2 added ageism and internalized homophobia to the previous model, significantly improving the fit of the model to the data and accounting for an additional 5% of the variance in depressive symptoms. The coefficient for internalized gay ageism was reduced in magnitude but remained statistically significant. The coefficients for ageism and internalized homophobia were also statistically significant. Separate analyses (not shown) indicated that the three constructs were all significantly (p < 0.001) correlated with each other (internalized gay ageism with ageism, R = 0.41; internalized gay ageism with internalized homophobia, R = 0.28; ageism with internalized homophobia, R = 0.29). Thus, there was conceptual overlap between the three constructs although they were not collinear.
Table 3.
Ordinary least squares regressions of current depressive symptoms (log transformed) on internalized gay ageism among gay-identified men aged 48–78 years in 2012/2013 (n = 312).
Model 1 b(SE)Model 2 b(SE)Model 3 b(SE)Model 4 b(SE)Model 5 b(SE)
Stressor
Internalized gay ageism (1–4)0.91 (0.11)***0.68 (0.12)***0.63 (0.12)***0.31 (0.10)**0.21 (0.10)*
Ageism (0–7)0.09 (0.03)**0.09 (0.03)**0.06 (0.03)*0.05 (0.03)
Internalized homophobia (0–4)0.22 (0.08)**0.18 (0.07)*0.16 (0.06)*0.11 (0.06)
Stress mediator
Mattering (1–4)−0.34 (0.08)***
Background characteristics
Born before baby boom−0.14 (0.14)−0.19 (0.12)−0.18 (0.11)
Non-Hispanic white−0.26 (0.19)−0.16 (0.16)−0.13 (0.15)
≥4 years of college−0.25 (0.11)*−0.17 (0.09)−0.12 (0.09)
Employed full time−0.39 (0.11)***−0.24 (0.09)**−0.20 (0.09)*
HIV-positive at baselinea0.02 (0.14)0.04 (0.12)0.04 (0.12)
HIV-positive converted after baselinea0.09 (0.17)0.06 (0.14)0.06 (0.14)
Self-rated excellent health−0.61 (0.13)***−0.40 (0.11)***−0.34 (0.11)**
Same-sex marriedb−0.28 (0.17)−0.03 (0.14)0.05 (0.14)
Same-sex domestic partnerb0.08 (0.17)0.06 (0.14)0.11 (0.14)
Same-sex committed relationshipb−0.07 (0.12)−0.02 (0.11)0.05 (0.10)
Other relationship statusb0.07 (0.21)0.24 (0.18)0.26 (0.17)
Grew up in Southern California0.17 (0.12)0.07 (0.10)0.06 (0.10)
Currently lives in Southern California0.02 (0.13)−0.04 (0.11)−0.05 (0.10)
Methodological controls
UCLA original cohort−0.07 (0.17)0.08 (0.14)0.12 (0.14)
Temporarily censored0.23 (0.13)0 16 (0.11)0.13 (0.10)
Depressive symptom trajectories c
Chiefly asymptomatic (group 1)−0.33 (0.17)*−0.30 (0.17)
Accelerating increase (group 3)0.55 (0.14)***0.55 (0.13)***
Consistently high (group 4)0.83 (0.13)***0.85 (0.12)***
High and worsening (group 5)1.40 (0.15)***1.35 (0.15)***
Constant0.04 (0.26)0.33 (0.26)1.13 (0.37)**0.96 (0.33)**2.16 (0.42)***
R20.180.230.360.550.58
F67.35***30.42***9.30***16.07***17.24***
Degrees of freedom(1,310)(3,308)(18,293)(22,289)(23,288)
Wald test (compared to previous model)10.00***4.15***29.96***19.98***
Degrees of freedom(2,308)(15,293)(4,289)(1,288)
Note. Regression coefficients (b) are unstandardized; SE = Standard error. *p ≤ 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001.
a
Reference group = HIV-negative since baseline in 1984/1985.
b
Reference group = Single.
c
Reference group = Decelerating decrease (group 2).
Model 3 added the background variables, slightly reducing the unstandardized regression coefficient for internalized gay ageism, which remained significant. This model accounted for 36% of the variance in depressive symptoms and significantly improved the fit of the model to the data compared to Model 2. Having four or more years of education, being employed full time, and being in excellent health were significantly associated with low depressive symptomatology.
Model 4 added the depressive symptom trajectories, reducing the unstandardized regression coefficient for internalized gay ageism by half. The R2 was 0.55 and Model 4 significantly improved the fit of the model to the data in comparison to Model 3. All background variables that previously were significant remained so except for having four or more years of education. Controlling for prior depressive symptom histories reduced the amount of current depressive symptomatology that could be explained and diminished the effect of internalized gay ageism on current depressive symptoms but, importantly, not to the extent that this effect was no longer significant. In terms of the depressive symptom trajectories, Group 2 (decelerating decrease) was chosen as the reference category for ease of interpretation since this group's association with depressive symptoms was significantly different from almost all of the other groups. Compared to group 2 (decelerating decrease), men in group 1 (chiefly asymptomatic) had significantly less frequent depressive symptoms. However, compared to group 2, men in groups 3 (accelerating increase), 4 (consistently high), and 5 (high and worsening) had significantly more frequent depressive symptoms. Supplemental comparisons indicated that coefficients for all trajectory groups significantly differed from one another in terms of their associations with current depressive symptomatology, with the exception of group 3 (accelerating increase) in comparison to group 4 (consistently high) (p > 0.05).
Model 5 added mattering to assess whether it mediated the association between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptoms. Mattering met the empirical criteria (Baron and Kenny, 1986) for being a viable mediator. As shown, mattering was significantly and negatively associated with depressive symptoms and its inclusion in the model diminished the unstandardized coefficient for internalized gay ageism. Model 5 represented a significant improvement in fit compared to Model 4, and accounted for 58% of the variance in depressive symptoms. The Sobel test was statistically significant (Z = 3.85; p < 0.001) and mattering mediated 35% of the total effect of internalized gay ageism on depressive symptoms. The interaction between internalized gay ageism and mattering was added to the model to test for stress buffering but the coefficient was not statistically significant and is not presented.

4. Discussion

In this study, we explored “internalized gay ageism” and how this new minority stress construct is experienced in the lives of midlife and older gay men. In particular, we examined the association between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptoms, and whether one's sense of mattering affects that association. To help rule out spuriousness, or false findings, our analysis accounted for essential control variables in addition to participants' histories of depressive symptoms.
We find that: (a) internalized gay ageism can reliably be measured among these men; (b) internalized gay ageism is differentiated from both perceived ageism and internalized homophobia; (c) internalized gay ageism is positively associated with depressive symptoms independent of an array of other factors that may also influence symptomatology; and (d), one's sense of mattering partially mediates but does not moderate or “buffer” the association between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptoms.
These analyses suggest that internalized gay ageism represents an underexplored form of sexual minority stress specific to midlife and older gay men. As a historical cohort, they have experienced dramatic changes over the last 40 years. These men are survivors, as AIDS has become a defining aspect of their development across the adult life course (Halkitis, 2014). They are now garnering social, personal, and legal benefits from the gay rights movement that gained momentum in the 1960s and 1970s (IOM, 2011). Notwithstanding these gains, they are aging within a larger social culture that continues to value youth and heterosexuality and a gay sub-culture that places a particular premium on youth and good looks (IOM, 2011).
We have shown that the convergence of internalized ageism and internalized homophobia – as measured with a new internalized gay ageism scale – is consequential to the psychological well-being of these men. Along with other forms of sexual minority stress (Meyer, 2003a and Meyer, 2003b), internalized gay ageism adds to the sexual identity-related challenges that midlife and older gay men may face. Further research investigating its complex social and psychological origins is much needed. Future research must also examine internalized ageism among more diverse samples of gay men and other sexual minority populations (e.g., lesbians, bisexuals, transgender individuals) to deepen understandings of its role as a sexual or gender minority stressor.
Consistent with previous work on the ameliorative aspects of mattering (Thoits, 2011), we find that this personal resource is negatively associated with depressive symptoms. We also find that mattering partially mediates the association between internalized gay ageism and depressive symptoms in that high levels of internalized gay ageism appear to diminish one's sense of mattering, which then leads to more frequent depressive symptoms. Conversely, low internalized gay ageism seems to amplify mattering and leads to less frequent depressive symptoms. Overall, mattering diminished the depressive effect of internalized gay ageism by 30% and accounted for an additional 9% of the variance in depressive symptoms in our regression model, demonstrating its powerful influence in the social stress process. Longitudinal data would support further analyses to help determine the extent to which internalized gay ageism diminishes one's sense of mattering over time versus the extent to which one's sense of mattering is a more stable psychosocial resource that promotes resilience in the face of internalized gay ageism. Similarly, longitudinal data are also needed to examine the degree to which mattering may fade with age, particularly among midlife and older gay men whose social networks have been greatly reduced by AIDS, with many losing peers who would now form a foundation for a greater sense of mattering (Pearlin and LeBlanc, 2001).

4.1. Limitations

There are a number of limitations to this study. The sample was self-selected and volunteered to participate in the MACS in 1984/85 and to complete the ASH-GM survey in 2012/13. Characteristics of these men are similar to those most affected by HIV/AIDS at the onset of the epidemic in the early 1980's (gay, non-Hispanic white men living in urban areas). Still, study results should not be generalized to the population of midlife and older gay men, although the construct of internalized gay ageism is clearly relevant to this population and future research with large representative samples is needed to broaden our understanding of its impact on a range of physical and mental health outcomes. The MACS, being a survivor cohort, may underestimate the prevalence of problems faced by midlife and older gay men. There is also the possibility that unobserved confounding variables are responsible for some significant effects (e.g., internalized gay ageism may be related to unmeasured personality traits, which could account for its significant association with depressive symptoms). Sample size may account for some of the non-significant findings and a larger sample would have allowed for a systematic examination of sub-groups of men, particularly men of color, for whom stress experiences may be compounded by other forms of minority stress (Thoits, 2010). Finally, the cross-sectional nature of the ASH-GM study limits us from unequivocally establishing causal directions of the observed associations, even though we control for depressive symptom histories.

5. Conclusion

In summary, internalized gay ageism appears to be a unique form of sexual minority stress applicable to midlife and older gay men that may affect their psychological well-being. The influence of internalized gay ageism on depressive symptoms is partially mediated by one's sense of mattering, a personal psychosocial resource that may be amenable to public health intervention. Aging within the context of a gay male identity merits greater consideration in the development of clinical- and community-based efforts designed to support midlife and older gay men. Future research is needed that expands how internalized gay ageism is measured and how it may be associated with other stress processes and health outcomes. These men have traversed unparalleled, personally relevant historical changes across their adult lives and have paved the way for younger generations of sexual minorities to live in a time of less institutionalized discrimination. Still, they are subject to feeling socially invisible and depreciated in their later years, especially within the gay male community.

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (R21-AG-042036, Richard G. Wight, Principal Investigator) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with co-funding from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute of Mental Health (U01-AI35040, Roger Detels, Principal Investigator). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. We thank Roger Detels, Carol S. Aneshensel, Dennis S. Miles, May Htike, Daniel Cheng, John Oishi, Kevin Barrett, Charles Doran, and Jessica Reit for assistance with the study's implementation, and we are grateful to participants of the UCLA MACS for sharing their experiences.


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Corresponding author. Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

1 σχόλιο :

  1. Ευχαριστουμε τις παρακατω ομαδες του lgbtqi χωρου, που μας τιμησαν και μας υποστηριξαν με την παρουσια τους, στο πρωτο ανοιχτο καλεσμα της ομαδας μας.
    Ειναι πολυ σημαντικο και ελπιδοφορο να ανοιξουμε ολ@ μαζι το θεμα aging στον lgbtqi χωρο και να εξαλειψουμε το στιγμα της 3ης ηλικιας με οτι αυτο συνεπαγεται. Η παρουσια σας μας εδωσε δυναμη και κουραγιο να προχωρησουμε εννωμενοι σαν κοινοτητα, σε αυτο το πολυ δυσκολο εγχειρημα.
    Ειστε οι οικογενειες μας και ετσι ακριβως νιωσαμε χτες emoticon smile
    Trans evi Turkey ( με σχετικο κειμενο τους)
    Οικογενειες ουρανιο τοξο
    Colour youth
    Ομοφοβια τρανσφοβια στην εκπαιδευση
    Conqueer/ lgbtqi + pride κρητης
    Λοατ Αμεα
    Ολκε
    Αθεες και Αθεοι Ελλαδας
    Τμημα Σεξουαλικου προσανατολισμου και ταυτοτητας φυλου του Συριζα
    Ελληνικο παρατηρητηριο συμφωνιων του Ελσινκι (ΣΠΤΦ- ΕΠΣΕ)
    LGBTQ+Allies against Islamophobia.
    Proud Seniors

    ΑπάντησηΔιαγραφή

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