Family Experiences of Single Sexual Minority Women from the Baby Boom

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Virginia Tech

Most individuals spend more than half their lives as single due to divorce, widowhood, and remaining single (Simpson, 2016). Singlehood, in general, has meant not being in a heterosexual relationship. Historically, lesbian women have been considered single because their relationships were not legally recognized. Single women and lesbian women have had more choices to live outside heterosexual marriage, financially and with social acceptability, in the later portion of the 20th century and in the early 21st century than previously. Single sexual minority women of the baby boom came of age during this time and are beginning to plan for and enter into old age. This study used qualitative methods to study how single sexual minority women of the baby boom cohort defined family and planned for their later years. Women from the baby boom cohort who are currently single and identify as a sexual minority were connected to their family of origin and extended families in their youth, focused on romantic relationships during adulthood, and currently identify their family as biological and chosen family. The women had formal and informal plans for their future as they continue to age. Limitations, future directions, and implications are also discussed.

baby boom, constructivist grounded theory, feminist theory, lesbian women, bisexual women, older adults, life course theory, singlehood