The greatest generationlesbian and gay elders, and how they lived their lives from before Stonewall to today
The Changing of the Guard
Lesbian and Gay Elders, Identity, and Social Change
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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 characterizedand constrainedprevious 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.
"This book is an insightful analysis of the life narratives of lesbians and gay men born before 1930. It uncovers and theorizes the connection between identifications made in youth and middle age, social change, and self constructions in later life. Rosenfeld deftly bridges the gap between historical and interactionist approaches to identity and identity politics, proving that the intersection between personal decisions and historical circumstances informs social relations and moral evaluations across the life course. Theoretically sophisticatedand a darned good readThe Changing of the Guard will be recognized as a significant addition to the growing literature on the complexities of identity and social life in old age."
"Rosenfeld's book is an important contribution to life course social science and adds to our understanding of aging among lesbians and gay men."
"...an important study."
"[O]riginal, stimulating, detailed and rich in sociological imagination...[a] compelling analysis."
"[T]his is a book that should be read by everyone wanting to do gerontological social work."
"The book provides insights into some of the important historical, political, and discursive influences on older lesbian and gay identities. It also provides a wealth of quotations from what are obviously rich data."
"This is a scholarly study that gives us insight into a population from which we rarely hear. Rosenfeld helps us to understand the influences of historical circumstances and how they influence social relations, sexuality, and the creation of a personal identity.... This book is highly recommended..."