WGS Colloquium with Mignon Moore

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Mignon Moore's colloquium talk "In the Shadow of Sexuality: Social Support and Health Challenges in the Lives of Older African American Sexual Minorities" was the subject of an article in the Daily Nebraskan.

Guest speaker, Mignon Moore, discusses issues facing LGBTQ elders
Jacob Elliot
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The second talk in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Women’s and Gender Studies fall colloquium series addressed problems facing elder LGBTQ minorities.

Mignon Moore, an associate sociologist from the University of California-Los Angeles, spoke in the Nebraska Union Monday afternoon on “In the Shadow of Sexuality: Social Support and Health Challenges in the Lives of Older African American Sexual Minorities,” and discussed health, histories and social support of these minorities.

Moore discussed several social support problems that many older LGBTQ minorities faced.

Though previous studies thought that homophobia would result in emotionally distant relationships between LGBTQ people and their families of origin, newer research suggests that these LGBTQ elders maintain a closer relationship with their kin than previously thought.

However, Moore said these elders still face a number of social problems because they came from a time where homosexuality was thought to be a disease. Many individuals have few people to discuss their sexuality with. This can even be seen to a larger extent through certain individuals who refuse to discuss their sexuality in public, even with friends or family members whom have known for years. Because of preconceived notions that homosexual parents were worse than heterosexual parents, many of these elders do not have children, Moore said.

Alongside support problems, many LGBTQ minority elders are faced with health problems. Not including the normal problems of aging, many couples must deal with certain laws that discriminate against homosexual individuals. As well, certain health complications may arise within LGBTQ elder communities; including a higher AIDS rate amongst gay and bisexual males.

Because of health and social support problems that can be seen within the community, Moore pushed for better care. In her presentation, she suggested that there be increased funding and provision for LGBTQ elder programs, immediate access to LGBTQ-based care, education, tools and legal services for LGBTQ elders and a national public discussion about LGBTQ issues.

Moore’s research included interviews of more than 50 individuals, as well as at least two focus interviews and field notes. Of the participants, 40 percent were male, 60 percent female, with an age range between 54 and 81 years old. Forty percent lived in Los Angeles, while the other 60 percent came from New York. Moore said previous research on younger LGBTQ people inspired her to research older people.

“If you think about younger LGBTQ, they often come into a better understanding of themselves through the older generations,” she said. “So I wondered, what were the experiences of the older generations when they were young?”

Seats were mostly full at Moore’s speech. Emily Kazyak, an assistant sociology professor, said she appreciated Moore’s focus on sexuality and race issues.

“A lot of time LGBTQ studies focuses just on sexuality, so to bring in perspective on race and African-Americans is great,” she said.

Julia McQuillan, another sociology professor, said she was glad Moore conducted so many interviews.

“(She’s) really trying to understand the unique issue of how sexuality can come into play with people’s health,” McQuillan said.

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Mignon Moore Speaks at UNL