Friday, January 12, 2018: 2:15 PM
Liberty BR Salon I (ML 4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Background and purpose: Existing research has documented health disparities among bisexual older women and men (Fredriksen-Goldsen and Kim, 2017); yet little is known about the protective and risk factors associated with their aging and well-being. Key life events shape transitions in life stages, roles, and expectations as lives unfold within differing historical and cultural contexts. Based on a Life Course Equity Framework, this article investigates key events in the lives of older bisexual women and men and the association with well-being. Methods: The study utilized weighted survey data from Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study, the first federally funded and largest national project to date of LGBTQ adults, age 50 and older (N=2,450). We analyzed life events across three primary domains: identity development, work, and kin relations, with analyses stratified by gender and sexual orientation. We tested the associations of these events with the well-being and quality of life of bisexual older women and men. Results: The likelihood and timing of specific life events related to identity, work and social relations differ for bisexual older women and men compared to those reported for lesbian, gay male, and other older adults. We also found significant gender differences among bisexual older adults. Bisexual older women reported being aware of their bisexual identity at a younger mean age than bisexual older men (25 years of age compared to 20, respectively) yet disclosed their bisexual identities 6 years later, on average, than bisexual older men. Identity affirmation was associated with the well-being of bisexual older women and men. Lower rates of lifetime workplace discrimination were associated with the well-being of bisexual older women and men; while lesbian and bisexual older women reported similar rates of workplace discrimination, bisexual older men reported higher rates of such discrimination than gay men. Bisexual older adults evidence distinct social kin relations compared to other sexual minority older adults, with relatively large social networks and a higher likelihood of marriage and children; higher levels of social support were associated with their well-being. Conclusions and Implications: Understood within a life course perspective, these findings suggest that bisexual older women and men experience distinct life events that must be considered in terms of the larger historical context. While bisexual older adults may be at risk of multiple jeopardized statuses given their age and bisexual identity, as well as sex among women, it is critical to remain cognizant of the many resources they may have accumulated over the life course and as result of some key life events. Future research will benefit from further ascertainment of how the sequencing and timing of life events influence the trajectories in the lives of bisexual older women and men. Investigating the lives of bisexual older adults will enhance our understanding of the increasing heterogeneity of aging in our society.