Social Support And Social Networks Among LGBT Older Adults In Rural Southern Appalachia

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Emily Dakin, Associate Professor, Departmental Honors Program Director (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: While research has begun to examine social networks and social support among LGBT older adults living in rural contexts, no research to date has examined these issues within the unique context of rural southern Appalachia. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study was to extend this emerging area of research by exploring the perspectives of LGBT older adults on their social networks and social support while living in rural southern Appalachia. In this study, 11 LGBT-identifying older adults were interviewed regarding their social networks and social support within the cultural context of rural Southern Appalachia. Participants generally described having rich informal social support networks that seemed to buffer and mitigate the deleterious effects of the wider culture of homophobia and transphobia. These networks, while varying from person to person, included families of choice (spouse / partner, close friends), neighbors, pets, biological family / families of origin, religious and spiritual communities, women’s or men’s social groups, and current or former coworkers. While six of the participants voiced that their support system was adequate for their needs, there were reports of mixed, tenuous, or insufficient support systems for five participants. After reviewing main findings, implications for research, practice, and policy are discussed.

Additional Information

Emily K. Dakin, Kelly A. Williams & Maureen A. MacNamara (2020). Social Support and Social Networks among LGBT Older Adults in Rural Southern Appalachia, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, DOI: 10.1080/01634372.2020.1774028. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2020
qualitative analysis, social support, sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ) populations issues, rural issues, social networks

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