The Changing of the Guard

Lesbian and Gay Elders, Identity, and Social Change

Dana Rosenfeld
Book Cover

PB: $27.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-031-3
Publication: May 03

HC: $71.50
EAN: 978-1-59213-030-6
Publication: May 03

264 pages
5.5 x 8.25
7 tables 1 figure

The greatest generation&--lesbian and gay elders, and how they lived their lives from before Stonewall to today


One of the first books to link identity, age, and gender, The Changing of the Guard offers a significant meditation on the politics of older lesbians and gays. Combining interviews and sustained critical thought, Rosenfeld links the development of lesbian and gay elders' identity with the key moments in the 20th century reinvention of homosexuality. In doing so, she bridges the gap between history and interaction that has characterized—and constrained—previous studies of identity.

Rosenfeld first summarizes the meaning of homosexuality that prevailed when her subjects came of age and the radical changes it underwent during their middle years. She uses these changes to trace the paths they took toward one of two homosexual identities: a discreditable one adopted before the advent of gay liberation, or an accredited one, adopted during and through those momentous years. She theorizes that there is the existence of two distinct identity "cohorts," shaped by a willingness or resistance to accept the historical forces at work on lesbian and gay identity. Such decisions on identities, Rosenfeld argues, strongly shaped her subjects in later life, specifically their understanding of the nature of homosexuals and their implications for relations with other people, straight and gay alike, as well as for standards of "homosexual competence" they use to assess their own and others' enactment of homosexuality.

An important book that challenges research on identity and identity formation, The Changing of the Guard rethinks how we have come to understand the meaning of homosexuality.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Distinctiveness of Lesbian and Gay Elders
1. "I Didn't Have Identity": Same-Sex Desire and the Search for Meaning
2. "I Picked Up That I Was Gay"
3. Biography and History: From Identity Careers to Identity Cohorts
4. "Dangerous Territory": The Heterosexual World
5. Homosexual Competence and Relations with Heterosexuals
6. Contingencies and Challenges
Conclusion: Challenges and Opportunities
Appendix: Informant Profiles

About the Author(s)

Dana Rosenfeld is Lecturer in the Department of Health and Social Care, Royal Holloway, University of London.