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  • Writer's pictureNicole Munsey

The LGBTQIA+ Journey: Younger vs. Older Adult Perspectives

New Pride at Every Age primary consumer research report by Morning Light Strategy brings to life the voices of the LGBTQIA+ population and examines the contrasts between the journeys experienced by Older and Younger members of the community.



Our latest insights explore the similarities and differences between how Younger and Older LGBTQIA+ Adults describe their journey.





The LGBTQIA+ Journey: Your Personal Experience


Both 18-49 and 50+ people express a mixture of joy, anxiety, and resilience, underscoring the complex and multifaceted nature of the LGBTQIA+ experiences across different generations.


Younger individuals focus more on contemporary experiences and quicker acceptance. Older people often highlight the historical context and prolonged nature of their journeys.



Similarities Across Ages


Personal Acceptance & Empowerment

Many younger individuals describe feelings of empowerment and authenticity upon embracing their true selves. Similarly, older people also express a sense of liberation and empowerment from accepting their identities, often after prolonged periods of concealment.


"It's so refreshing to finally be your true authentic self but you realize just how many people in this world still look down upon you."

                     Cisgender, Age 18-24, Bi/Lesbian/Gay

"Been hiding all my life and finally feel ready to live my proper life!! Anxious!"

                     Transgender, Age 55-64, Bi/Lesbian/Gay



Support & Relationships

Among those aged 18-49, support from friends and family is a common theme, providing a buffer against societal prejudice. Older individuals (aged 50+) also highlight the crucial role of supportive relationships, whether from family, partners, or the LGBTQIA+ community.


"I am supported by my friends and family, but strangers might not be so kind and mumble words under their breathe but it don't affect me."

                     Cisgender, Age 18-24, Bi/Lesbian/Gay

"Fright for fear of threats! Accepted because it was so wonderful for my sister to say so! Love from my wife!"

                     Cisgender, Age 55-64, Bi/Lesbian/Gay



Challenges & Struggles

Many younger participants mention challenges such as societal prejudice, internal conflict, and the difficulty of coming out. Older respondents also recount significant challenges, often remembering the societal attitudes of earlier decades.


"It was challenging because I honestly questioned myself my whole life until I reached adulthood and finally admitted I was a lesbian, and [non-binary] took me even longer."

                     Non-Binary/Fluid, Age 25-34, Bi/Lesbian/Gay

"In the 80s it was very much a taboo, and I always felt judged and awkward trying to find somebody that could relate."

                     Cisgender, Age 55-64, Bi/Lesbian/Gay



Notable Differences Across Ages


Historical Context & Societal Change

The challenges faced by younger individuals often center around contemporary issues and interactions, with less emphasis on historical context.

"The people I've gotten to meet through being a part of the LGBT+ community have been, generally, kind, loving people and allow me to be myself in more ways than just gender/sexuality."

                     Non-Binary/Fluid, Age 18-24, Queer/Pansexual


Older people frequently reflect on the historical context, noting significant changes over time and how these shifts have impacted their experiences.

"It was very difficult for me to be honest with myself and spent much of my life in denial. Finally, I accepted who I really am."

                     Cisgender, Age 65-74, Bi/Lesbian/Gay



Prolonged Struggle vs. Early Acceptance

Many younger people report quicker acceptance of their identities, often supported by a more inclusive contemporary environment.

"My coming out was never a large issue and I've yet to have issues regarding my sexuality. It was simple and gave me little issues."

                     Cisgender, Age 18-24, Queer/Pansexual


Older individuals often describe a prolonged struggle for acceptance, both internally and externally, due to more conservative societal attitudes during their formative years.

"It took me a long time to accept my gayness. I chose those words [mysterious, fearful, wondering] because of the family I was born into, an Evangelical one."

                     Cisgender, Age 55-64, Bi/Lesbian/Gay



Momentary vs. Persistent Fear & Anxiety

While younger individuals do express fear and anxiety, these feelings are often more transient and related to specific situations or periods, like coming out.

"Because it was confusing at first then scary telling people but then amazing because of all the support I got."

                     Cisgender, Age 35-44, Bi/Lesbian/Gay


Older people often describe a more persistent sense of fear and anxiety, stemming from a lifetime of societal prejudice and the need to conceal their identities.

"Pretty low key and most don't know. In the closet would be accurate. I just can't come out."

                     Cisgender, Age 65-74, Bi/Lesbian/Gay



Community & Connection

The importance of community and connection is frequently emphasized by younger people, who often find support and affirmation in the broader LGBTQIA+ community.

"Because being in the LGBTQ+ community is amazing with how people gather together, awesome because you learn you are not alone and wonderful because everyone is wonderful."

                     Cisgender, Age 25-34, Bi/Lesbian/Gay


While older individuals also value community, their experiences often highlight the difficulties of finding and connecting with the LGBTQIA+ community, especially in earlier years.

"So, took a while for me to figure out, have not always been directly connected to community so I have to catch up when I do, but times when me and my partner reconnect to broader community is very joyful."

                     Cisgender, Age 50-54, Queer/Pansexual




A multifaceted experience across generations


Both 18-49 and 50+ people express a mixture of joy, anxiety, and resilience, underscoring the complex and multifaceted nature of LGBTQIA+ experiences across different generations.


In our latest report, Pride at Every Age: Contrasting the LGBTQIA+ Journeys of Younger & Older Adults, we explore the language, identities, perceptions, opinions and insights of the LGBTQIA+ community, including how both Older and Younger Adults describe their personal journey and identity, how they perceive the journey at large over time, and what they hope and expect the future to bring.




The future is old. Are you ready?


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Research Methodology:  Online survey conducted by Morning Light Strategy on June 20-21, 2024 among a national sample of N = 100 US Adults aged 18+ that identify as LGBTQIA+ (N = 50 Aged 18-49; N =50 Aged 50+). 


About:  Morning Light Strategy is an insights & advisory agency on a mission to help brands and organizations plan and position for the global shift toward an older demographic. We help our clients make the strategic business, marketing and innovation decisions that will accelerate their growth among 50+ consumers and their caregivers.  To learn more, visit: www.morninglightstrategy.com

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