Study: Older Gays Fear Coming Out

Published: November 4, 2011

New research from Ireland shows that one-third of older gay people avoid coming out to family and friends out of fear of rejection.

The “Visible Lives” study — the first major survey of gay people over 55 in Ireland — gathered its data from interviews with up to 144 people. Among the most visible findings is that while the majority of older gays have disclosed their sexual orientation to at least one person, many feel they’re unable to live openly in society.

The Irish Timesreports that “while most respondents are comfortable with their identity, 28% are not out to any neighbors and 10% are not out to any of their close family members.”

“However, they also show the resilience of many gay people who have overcome adversity and developed accepting relationships with family, friends and colleagues.”

The data also sheds light on the topic of isolation. Approximately 46% of gay elders live alone, compared to the 15% of elders in the general population who live alone.

Catherine Rose, chief executive of Age and Opportunity – the organization that funded the study – noticed a similarity of issues facing straight and gay older people in the country.

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