Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Identifier

886

Date

2013

Date of Award

5-31-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Counseling Psychology

Committee Member

Sara Bridges

Abstract

Although a recent surge in the literature has begun to address the existence and needs of the growing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) older adult population in the United States, there is little established research that has examined their contextualized lived experiences. Having been exposed to triple discrimination through ageism, heterosexism, and sexism, older LBQ women may uniquely experience increased levels of minority stress and decreased psychological wellbeing (Almack, 2010; Gluhoski et al., 1997). Much of this discrimination is grounded in current ‘religious’ discourse in the United States, particularly in the South; at the same time, ample research connects spirituality to wellbeing in the general population and is related to aging through coping, finding community, and making meaning. In the absence of information about what aging is like for LBQ women in older adulthood in the current socio-cultural climate, misperceptions may perpetuate dominant beliefs about sexual orientation, spirituality, and aging. Therefore, based in the need to deconstruct these misconceptions, this qualitative research used narrative inquiry informed by post-structuralism and queer theory to contextualize new understandings of aging as an LBQ-identified woman, with a particular focus in the areas of end of life and spirituality. Data was collected using unstructured life-story interviews with six individuals self-identified as female and lesbian, bisexual, or queer. This research was guided by the following broad questions: 1) What dominant discourses of spirituality and aging intersect into the lives of older LBQ women?; 2) How do LBQ women psychologically negotiate these dominant discourses of spirituality and aging in their lived experiences?; and 3) How is this negotiation enacted in their day-to-day experiences and understandings of self? Using Creative Analytic Practice (CAP), the findings of this study were presented through three fictional narratives constructed from the data in order to illuminate diverse ways in which discourses of spirituality and aging intersected in the lives of participants, ways in which participants psychologically negotiated these competing discourses, and enactments and understandings of self that resulted from these processes. These constructed narratives may sensitize the reader to the discourses that sexual minority women and we all have been/are subject.

Comments

Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.

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