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Gay and Lesbian Aging

Cultural And Subcultural Variation

An understanding of homosexuality should be viewed within the cultural context of a particular society. Ritualized homosexuality has been widely reported throughout Melanesia and is understood by anthropologists as age-structured homosexuality. In Sambia, for example, the psychosocial and sexual development in males from middle childhood through old age is regulated through the initiation process controlled through the men's secret society. Adult men initiate boys by inseminating them, but as adults they go on to marry and have children.

Issues typically faced by older gays and lesbians will be exacerbated or mitigated by their cultural or ethnic heritage. In general, gays and lesbians within ethnic groups with particularly strong family ties (e.g., African American, Asian, and Latino/a) and those that place a high value on gender roles may face extreme difficulties— perhaps even being forced to choose between their family and their homosexuality. Traditional Native American cultures, on the other hand, do not tend to divide sexuality into a dichotomy of male and female. Instead, they tend to view people as having both male and female spirits and are generally more tolerant than other subcultures and ethnic groups, especially those coming from European and Eastern cultures.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 2Gay and Lesbian Aging - Myths And Realities, Gender Differences, Major Issues With Aging, Cultural And Subcultural Variation, Historical Variation - Organizations