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date: 01 October 2022

Gay Aging and Discourses of Futurelocked

Gay Aging and Discourses of Futurelocked

  • Dustin GoltzDustin GoltzCollege of Communication, DePaul University

Summary

The understandings about age—the values and assumptions placed upon age and aging persons—mark a culturally and politically constructed discourse. For LGBTQ populations, aging is mapped with a unique set of stories, scripts, and narratives that work to frame and constrain how they are trained to see, read, and assign meanings. Coupled with scripts and myths that work to define the process and experience of LGBTQ aging—what it is to be an “older,” “younger,” or “aging” queer—is the cultural scripting of the queer future (i.e., “What’s ahead?” “What do you expect from your life?” “What is to come?”). As a communicative process and a symbolic construction, no one knows what the future is or what one’s future will be. Yet, the queer future has historically been scripted in mainstream discourses (film, literature, religion, and cultural mythology) as a space of pain, loss, and tragedy—“a harder path” equated with sadness, turmoil, and punishment. Cautionary tales of the dirty old man, the sad pathetic fool, the invisible spinster, the lesbian vampire, and the queer monster are recurring themes that work to denigrate aging queer lives and shore up the story of heteronormative correctness. This cultural script works to frame how mainstream culture understands LGBTQ populations but also frames and constrains how LGBTQ populations might view themselves, understand their future and aging bodies, and shape their investment in health, self-care, and longevity. The cultural scripts perpetuated in media and discourse, however, do not so easily line up with social science research on queer populations. Examining the meaning-making dimensions of gay aging and future offers an interdisciplinary approach that brings together sociology, gerontology, performance studies, and media criticism with the field of human communication.

Subjects

  • Gender (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies)

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