Research has shown that aging lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGBs) often experience feelings of loneliness. The main aim of this study was to examine whether older LGB adults in the Netherlands are lonelier than their heterosexual counterparts and, if so, whether the higher levels of loneliness can be attributed to a lower degree of social embeddedness. Using data from the Gay Autumn project and the NESTOR survey on Living Arrangements and Social Networks of Older Adults, we found that LGB elders were significantly lonelier and less socially embedded than heterosexual elders. Compared with their heterosexual peers, older LGBs were more likely to have experienced divorce, to be childless or to have less intensive contact with their children. They also had less intensive contact with other members of their families and they were less frequent churchgoers.
Their weaker level of social embeddedness, however, only partially explained the stronger feelings of loneliness among older LGB adults. Nor could their higher levels of loneliness be attributed to other, non-social embeddedness factors (health, living conditions, self-esteem, and socioeconomic status).Emphasis on other aspects of social embeddedness,
such as the quality of social relationships in the private domain and minority stress, is an important challenge for future research.
Keywords: Elderly Gay men Lesbians Bisexuals
Loneliness Social embeddedness