Remembering My Hat

7th July 2015

iages conference: Part 5

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 16:32

Final liveblog of the iages conference. For previous sessions and disclaimers, click backwards from here.

Travis Kong, Hong Kong

The secret garden: Oral history of older gay men in Hong Kong

Wants to understand the changing meaning and nature of homosexuality in many transformations of Hong Kong + changes over life course.

Ageing studies sited in Hong Kong don’t talk about sexuality, studies of homosexuality don’t talk about older people.

20 60+ (60-89) gay men living in HK for more than 40 years. Mostly Chinese, 4 ex pat British.

Colonial HK (1940s and 50s):

  • Homosexuality a crime but arrest very rare – no entrapment like in UK. Why? Govt didn’t want to intervene too much in society. Boundary politics allows space for homosexuality.
  • More about shame than fear.
  • Most people lived in very cramped housing because of high densities – communal living. Physical security and emotional support.
  • Development of argots – ‘going to the gardens to see fish’ ‘played mah-jong, got a good tile’
  • Public spaces, streets, train stations, public toilets – non-normative intimacy. Both public and private simultaneously. Chauncey 1994 “privacy could only be had in public” of New York 1920s

HKSAR (1997 – )

  • Homosexuality decriminalised but still no same sex marriage or anti-discrim law.
  • Families become more privatised, more people living on their own
  • Some still living with wives, privileging families over lovers. Sacrificing themselves to benefit traditional family? Both heterosexual and homosexual [not bisexual?! Surely a candidate descriptor, even if not the right one for this particular individual]. Flexible and multiple identities possible outside Western paradigms. Coming out narratives don’t fit very well.
  • Secret gardens have gone. New gay spaces not always welcoming to older men.

After interviews, set up monthly group, they’ve produced a book together of life stories for non-academic audiences. Lots of amazing photos, with constraint that only two of them were out (masks, hands before face). Knowledge exchange. Set up peer counselling group and telephone helpline for older gay men.


(cc) chong head

Neil Henderson, Univ of Western Cape, South Africa

LGBT ageing and care: A literature study

Report on his fellowship at Sue Ryder centre, Univ of Nottingham. Focusing particularly on care needs of older LGBT people. Got funding for project last month!

[Not many notes because quite familiar terrain to me. Including citing me]

Implications of the literature for South Africa. Older Person’s Act 2006 – broad legislation, nothing specific about LGBT people but constitution is v progressive and civil unions act 2006 allows same sex marriage. Democracy feels fragile but progress on LGBT rights feels possible.

Health care is quite focused on opportunistic infections, so not much on ageing issues. 10% of population is HIV+ and it’s already under-resourced. Little social work intervention for older LGBT people.

Kathy Almack, Nottingham

Navigating personal networks: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans older people’s networks of support towards the end of life

[not much noted as I’m very familiar with this work too]

Mother who had become more accepting of his male partner, but with dementia became less so again -real dilemmas for him to care for mother but not accept her abuse of his partner.


(cc) Nell Moralee

Orla Parslow-Breen, Surrey

Family carer or lesbian: Is it a choice or can I be both?

Lit review from her PhD – submitting next week.

Linda Pickard – single women more likely to become carers than partnered, especially if childless.Taxonomy of different types of daughters (Brody et al. 1994) does not seem to include lesbian daughters. Spinster model v. sandwich model (= married daughter with kids). Much recent research has been on sandwich caring.


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