First Advisor

Margaret B. Neal

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Socioemotional Selectivity Theory, LGBT, Senior housing, Older sexual minorities -- Housing, Older sexual minorities -- Social conditions, Quality of life



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 142 p.) : col. ill.


By the year 2030, 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 years of age or older. An increase in the demand for supportive health and social services is expected with the aging of the population. Demand for senior housing is expected to grow, too. This study explores what the social environment offers to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors who relocated to LGBT retirement communities. Previous research asked LGBT seniors who did not live in LGBT senior housing about their housing preferences. The present study, for the first time, asked residents of existing LGBT senior living communities to explain why they chose to live in an LGBT retirement community. Focus groups were conducted at three retirement communities. Thirty-eight residents at the three study sites participated. Seven focus groups were conducted; each was audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The analysis found common categories across the focus group data that explain the phenomenon of LGBT senior housing. The average age of the participants was 71. Demographic differences were found between generations, with the older participants being more likely to have revealed their sexual orientation late in life, and more likely to have been married and have children. The findings showed that acceptance by other residents of one's sexual orientation and gender identity allows LGBT seniors to feel comfortable in what several residents called their "domestic environment." The questions asked about housing choice and were open ended; respondents chose to focus on the social aspect of their living environments. Acceptance, as opposed to tolerance, was a strong theme. Acceptance by others reduced stress and fostered a feeling of safety and a sense of community. Social networks were strong and expansive, contrary to the theory of socioemotional selectivity theory, which would argue that the total number social relationships diminishes with age. Participants emphasized the social context of their living environment as the reason they chose to live in LGBT senior housing. Participants noted past discrimination, but it was the positive aspects resulting from acceptance that were emphasized as the reason for their choice of LGBT specific retirement housing.


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Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning

Persistent Identifier