4 mins


This year, with the support of the Community Foundation of Ireland, we carried out a survey amongst our readership to get insights into what our community feels about aging and dying. Here are some of the takeaways.

Doesn’t Christmas feel like ages ago now? Have you noticed the years passing quicker as you get older?

As we age, our priorities change, too. Things that were someone else’s problem in our youth start to appear on the horizon…a mortgage, a wedding, a pension, a will, healthcare, and retirement.

With the Community Foundation of Ireland’s support, we carried out a survey with some essential questions about agin for LGBTQ+ folk. Questions such as perceptions of old age, contemplation of ageing, and the necessity of tailored support for the LGBTQ+ community as we age were at the forefront.

Building on those conversations, we asked you again to see what, if anything, has changed in 12 months. Thanks to the 200+ of you who took the time to participate.

This survey was open to everyone across the island of Ireland and to all ages. We received answers from right across the spectrum of our community, from ages 17 to 90, and these were some of the findings:

Firstly, we wanted to find out in-person engagement levels across the community, and the good news is that it has continued to increase since the pandemic. While some people said they had restricted their socialising at the start of the ‘cost of living crisis’, they were back to “normal” levels of social activity within the community.

36% of respondents said that they usually socialised with people not in their own age group, with 51% saying they sometimes did. These figures are down on a year ago, with the main reason cited as lack of venues that encourage cross-generational engagement, with over half of people saying there needed to be more facilities or opportunities to mix socially, especially for people living outside the main urban centres.

Most people said they could not relate to people in a different age bracket than themselves, but it was pretty much a three-way tie on if people are in, or would consider, a relationship with a big age gap:

How often do you engage with the LGBTQ+ community?

Would you or do you have romantic/sexual relationships with people where there is a big age gap between you?

38% of people asked thought we hit old age when we hit our 70’s, 21% said it was in our 80’s, and a few said old age started in our 30’s!

From what age do you consider a person to be old?

" I’d love to meet other queer people my age - but the queer spaces out there seem to be for young people (which is brilliant), but I don’t see mid-life queer people anywhere.

" I fear the whole issue of presenting as LGBTQ+ in a health service setting. I have experienced being told by a GP that ‘the only love I needed was that of my grandchildren’. I changed GP, obviously!

What would you consider your life expectancy to be?

In terms of life expectancy, most respondents expected to live into their 80’s - an increase from a year ago.

A third of people said they were “dreading” being old, while understandably, over 60% were “excited” about retiring from work.

We asked people what words they associated with the following terms – youth, middle age, and old age.

For youth, the main themes that emerged were freedom, opportunity, and carefree, which switches to settled, stress and work in middle age.

When asked what words sprang to mind when thinking of old age, the answer that came through the loudest was loneliness.

Older people said they felt isolated, even invisible.

" As I get older myself, I am concerned that I will be less relevant, less visible, and less welcome in my community. Access to age-friendly services, community groups and events will be vital to living and dying well as an ageing queer Irish person.

When asked, do they agree with the statement: “Irish queer culture has a positive view of getting older,” over twothirds said they disagreed, up 21% from a year ago.

36% of our respondents had attended the wake, removal, funeral, or remembrance event of an LGBTQ+ friend or family member in the last five years, with 62% saying that the funeral or service recognised and celebrated the identity of the deceased.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of people said that LGBTQ+ people are not catered for when it comes to death and dying in this country.

Do you think that LGBTQ+ people in Ireland are well catered for in relation to death and dying?

A prevailing sentiment emerged: the majority feel that older LGBTQ+ folk lack adequate support and provisions concerning ageing and dying in our country.

These findings were complemented by insightful quotes from participants, highlighting personal experiences, concerns, and aspirations within the community.

This survey sheds light on the multifaceted attitudes toward age and ageing within the queer community, underscoring the importance of inclusive support structures and highlighting the conversation we need to have across all generations.

" We need more understanding that there are non-religious options for funerals and death rituals here. Families need to remember that the person they are mourning was a real person, and erasing aspects of death you didn’t agree with doesn’t make it go away. Tradition is important, but it shouldn’t be how and why we make our decisions about how we will mourn.

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