University of Sussex
Traies,_Jane.pdf (2.96 MB)

The lives and experiences of lesbians over 60 in the UK

Download (2.96 MB)
posted on 2023-06-08, 17:13 authored by Jane Traies
This thesis offers an insight into a section of the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community that has been consistently under-represented in research. Based on data gathered from some 400 lesbians over 60, this study presents the findings of the first comprehensive survey of older lesbian life to be undertaken in the UK. It complements existing LGBT ageing research (Heaphy, Yip and Thompson, 2003; Cronin and King, 2010; Archibald, 2010; Stonewall, 2011), which has focussed more on men than women; and provides substantial data about a population which has frequently been referred to as ‘invisible’ and ‘hard to reach’ (Berger, 1982; Kehoe, 1986; Deevey, 1990; Heaphy et al., 2003. etc.). As well as providing a detailed picture of older lesbian life in the UK at the beginning of the 21st century, the thesis specifically addresses the following questions: ? just how ‘invisible’ are older lesbians? To what extent do they feel able to respond to the more liberal legal and social climate of the early 21st century by ‘coming out of the closet,’ even if they have not done so before? What might be their reasons for staying hidden? ? do older lesbians conform to the ‘old, sad and alone’ stereotype of the ageing homosexual (Dorfman et al., 1995), or to the contrasting view that older non-heterosexuals have built strong support networks (Kehoe, 1988) and offer positive alternative models for ageing (Weeks, Heaphy and Donovan, 2001)? ? considering that most LGBT ageing research is based on samples containing more men than women, are there aspects of personal history and ontology specific to older lesbians, which have been obscured by research with a more general ‘LGBT’ focus? ? given the wide social, political and economic diversity of the research sample and the variety of their life experiences as revealed by the data, do older lesbians really have anything in common other than their sexual orientation? How useful is the term ‘older lesbian’ as an identity category?


File Version

  • Published version



Department affiliated with

  • Media and Film Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

Qualification name

  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Theses)


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager