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Seniors Reborn Coming Out Later in Life


Changing attitudes and increased visibility of LGBT Americans are prompting more and more seniors to come out later in life, a process that is a new subject of study.

The Associated Press reports that people who work with older adults note the trend of seniors coming out, even if no definitive numbers are available. Outings by older stars such as Meredith Baxter, who came out last year at 62, and Richard Chamberlain, who came out in 2003 at 69, inspire some.

"Increased awareness and acceptance of varied sexualities and gender identities has led Americans to come out far younger, as early as middle school," reports the AP. "A less noticed but parallel shift is happening at the other end of the age spectrum, with people in their 60s, 70s and 80s coming to terms with the truth that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender."

Coming out later in life presents unique challenges for seniors who have denied their true identity for decades, according to the AP.

"Outing yourself late in life can be complicated after having lived through times when being openly gay could get you arrested, put in an institution and given shock treatments. It's snarled in a lifetime of trudging along through society's view of normalcy and the resulting fear of being ostracized by children and grandchildren. And it's marked by a nagging doubt that all the heartache, all the potential for it to go wrong, may not be worth it with one's years numbered."

Advocates for seniors will meet this week in Chicago for the annual conference of the American Society on Aging.

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Julie Bolcer