Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Sociology

Major Professor

Sara L. Crawley, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Donileen R. Loseke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maralee Mayberry, Ph.D.

Keywords

lesbian, gay, retirement, whiteness, suburban, privilege

Abstract

Moving to Florida to retire has become commonplace among American elders, though we have seldom addressed how lesbians and gay men navigate sexual identity in retirement. I undertake ethnography of three suburban, retirement-aged residential communities in Florida in which lesbians and gay men make community in order to understand how identities are produced by and within communities, the significance of suburban gay communities in the post-gay community era, and how residents from each community engage dominant discourse. Sanctuary Cove 1 is a ―gay and lesbian‖ retirement community; Bayside Park is a ―women‘s-only‖ (lesbian) community; and Heritage Estates is a heteronormative retirement community with a growing lesbian ―network.‖ Drawing from conversations with thirty lesbians and four gay men, I compare community practices to support my argument that these are respective settings for accrediting, contesting, and privileging identities. By exploring how participants collectively construct and present sexual selves in disparate communities, I attempt to uncover the co-constitutive interaction between community and identity; while attention to the ruling relations of sexuality, sex, gender, race, and class engages the politics of privilege and stigma.

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