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Ageing Online: Exploring Older 2SLGBTQ+ Adults’ Experiences with Digital Platforms

Ageing Online: Exploring Older 2SLGBTQ+ Adults’ Experiences with Digital Platforms  

Date: March 23, 2023
Time: 1:00pm - 2:00pm EDT
Location: Virtual

Visiting Scholar in Sexuality Studies Talk with Dr. Christopher Dietzel

Most of the research that examines how people interact via online technologies, including recent research exploring use of technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, has focused on young people rather than older adults. There are even fewer studies on the experiences that older adults who identify as Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other gender and sexual minorities (2SLGBTQ+) have with digital platforms, and most of the research focuses on risks and harm rather than the positive impacts of technology. Additionally, since March 2020, community organizations have faced challenges when adapting their resources and services to the virtual context, with some choosing to stop offering support rather than provide that support online. However, this means that marginalized populations, like older 2SLGBTQ+ adults, may have been unable to access important services and resources during this critical period.

In this Visiting Scholar Talk, I will begin by exploring what is known about the technologically-facilitated connections that older 2SLGBTQ+ adults have via digital platforms, and I will focus my review on studies that have examined their socio-sexual relationships and online interactions. Next, I will present preliminary findings from my scoping review that investigated how older 2SLGBTQ+ adults used online technologies to maintain connections during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, I will discuss four main themes uncovered in this research: older 2SLGBTQ+ adults’ use of technology; the benefits and positive impacts of technology on this population; the challenges and negative impacts of technology on this population; and the resilience and solidarity of this population. Then, I will speak about my current research, which includes an investigation of the socio-sexual and health needs of older 2SLGBTQ+ adults during and since the pandemic, and how community organizations can better support this population moving forward. The presentation will close with a Q&A conversation with the audience about this research, its implications, and future directions for this field.