The life and ageing experiences of gay men over the age of 65 in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Nursing at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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BACKGROUND What does it mean to age as a gay man in New Zealand? Until recently, this has been a question difficult to answer as there were no studies completed in New Zealand regarding this topic and thus, this principal work explores this question. AIMS The purpose of this study was to explore the life and ageing experiences of gay men in New Zealand over the age of 65 years. Its three aims were to: • Critically explore the narratives of gay men over 65 years. • Identify areas of support that these men might need as they age, and • Inform professional health practice about the care needs of older gay men. METHODS This enquiry has utilised two theoretical frameworks, narrative gerontology informed by critical gerontology melded together in which to explore the above aims. Data were gathered from semi-structured interviews with 12 men from the ages of 65-81 years of age. Analysis of the data were completed by thematic analysis. FINDINGS There were two main themes that became evident in this project and these were emergence of the gay self and the ageing experience. CONCLUSION Resilience was a significant factor in how well the men aged even in an environment of homophobia. Being independent and having a strong social support network were factors that assisted them in ageing in the absence of a partner. Other ageing concerns that surfaced that were not sexual orientation specific were dealing with loss, death, financial well-being, and the ageist attitudes of others. The men were wary of sharing their sexual orientation with too many healthcare professionals and they feared having to potentially hide their sexual orientation again if they ever needed to go into a long-term care setting in the future. This study highlights the unique experiences of ageing among older gay men in New Zealand. Healthcare professionals as well as nurse educators and researchers must recognise the unique history of this group of men and any conflicts this group may have with others of different orientation in order to assist them to age well in a safe social environment.
Ageing, Gay men, Older gay men