Masculinity at the Margin? Self-Concepts of Elder Gay Men at the Intersection of Ageism and Homophobia

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Lea SCHUETZE, LMU Munich, Germany
As research on elder men is slowly advancing (e.g. Bartholomaeus/Tarrant 2015), it is still the heterosexual elder who is the unquestioned ma(i)n figure when crossing masculinity studies with social gerontology. Expressing a form of subordinated masculinity (cf. Connell 1995) gay men can be seen as a marginalized and often discriminated group. With lives lived apart from ‘normal biographies’ they often suffer from the lack of financial as well as social support, for example when in need of elder care. When growing older, they are not only affected by differing forms of homophobia that always question the manhood of homosexual men, but also by various forms of ageism coming from subcultural scenes as well as from all spheres of society. Accordingly, elder homosexual men have to deal with physical changes and restrictions who challenge images of the healthy, young body that mostly dominate gay communities and subcultures. Following the thesis that there is no common figure that implies a good way of ageing for gay men, I want to give insights into the various forms of how elder gay men in third and fourth age in Germany deal with this structural and symbolic challenge when growing older. Focusing on qualitative interview data conducted with men (60 – 90 years old) who identify themselves as gay, I will point out how they integrate discursive patterns about age, ageing and homosexuality into their self-concepts. Within an intersectional framing and using a poststructuralist concept of self-identity and subjectivity I want to shed light on how self-concepts show struggles with threatening forms of hegemonic masculinity, and how elder gay men find differing and often resistant notions of manhood when facing ageing in an ageist environment.