If you take a look at the changes in family living arrangements since the 1970s, a few things seem to jump off the graph. First, you can’t help but miss the drop in the proportion of married couples with children households (a percentage almost halved in just under 40 years). What’s more interesting, however, are the family forms (defined by the Census as “nonfamily households” – which has the feel of a pointed term) that have picked up those stray percentage points.
Living arrangements that fall into the categories that the Census designates as “family households” really don’t show enormous change aside from the huge decline in married couples with children. A great deal of attention has been paid to the “other nonfamily households” as interest in cohabitation and it’s alleged effects are heavily scrutinized. The other categories (women living alone and men living alone) receive a bit less attention, but together, all three categories account for a great deal of the decline in married couple with children households.
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If you were 18 the summer of the Stonewall Riots, Happy 60th! (Sorry if I missed it.) As the generation of gay men and lesbians that came of age during the gay rights movement reaches their 60s, we need to get serious about a conversation about sexuality and retirement. How will these men and women choose to retire? Are retirement communities for heterosexual individuals and couples heterosexualized in ways that make them unattractive to gay and lesbian couples and individuals? Are they open to sexual diversity? Is this how gay men and lesbians want to retire? And if so, can we expect them to have the same rosy experiences marketed to heterosexual couples?
Some new research suggests that this is a significant issue. Older gay men and lesbians ought to worry about retiring and growing old in communities where they don’t experience stigma. The study focuses exclusively on gay men, but did compare single gay men with gay men with domestic partners and legally married gay men. They found that stress related to aging was compounded by “sexual minority stress” in ways that pose significant mental health risks for gay men.
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