Narratives of Generativity and Resilience among LGBT Older Adults: Leaving Positive Legacies despite Social Stigma and Collective Trauma

J Homosex. 2021 Jan 28;68(2):230-251. doi: 10.1080/00918369.2019.1648082. Epub 2019 Aug 13.


The aim of many adults in middle to old age is to be generative. Generativity is the concern older adults direct toward the wellbeing of future generations. Being generative results in positive well-being during later life and is especially important to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) older adults who have experienced lifelong discrimination. In this study, we identified stigmatizing social influences that both negatively and positively acted to inform understandings of generativity and the ability to leave a legacy for future generations. Using a narrative analysis methodology, we identified three overarching redemptive narratives from study participants: (1) experiences during the HIV/AIDS pandemic, (2) absence of positive role models, and (3) religious conviction. These life story narratives inform how generative contributions can contribute toward a legacy of resilience, despite social stigma and collective trauma.

Keywords: Cultural generativity; LGBTQ+; narrative inquiry; older adults; redemptive narratives; resilience; stigma.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Bisexuality
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Healthy Aging / physiology
  • Homosexuality, Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narration
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Transgender Persons
  • Transsexualism