New study of midlife and older gay men links "internalized gay ageism" with depressive symptoms

"Internalized gay ageism," or the sense that one may feel denigrated or depreciated because of aging in the context of a gay male identity, is associated with negative mental outcomes according to a new study published in Social Science & Medicine.

Prior research has shown that youth, vigor, and physical attractiveness are disproportionately valued in the gay male community, leaving many to experience a sense of "accelerated aging." This study explores how ageism and homophobia are jointly internalized by gay men, whether these feelings affect their mental health, and whether a sense of "mattering" (the degree to which they feel they are important to others and a significant part of the world around them) offsets any mental health deficits associated with internalized gay ageism.

The study is based on data collected from 312 gay-identified men who have been participating in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study since 1984. The men ranged in age from 48 to 78 years (average age: 61yrs) and 61% were HIV-negative. Three decades of depressive symptoms data were included in the analysis to help strengthen the direction of the observed findings.  Read more via Williams Institute