Fruhauf co-edits book on issues faced by older LGBT adults

Christine Fruhauf, a Human Development and Family Studies professor at CSU whose research focuses on gerontology, co-edited a book that was published August titled The Lives of LGBT Older Adults: Understanding Challenges and Resiliencies.

Christine Fruhauf

“We wanted the book to help providers who are working with older adults who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT),” Fruhauf said, referring to herself and gerontology colleague and co-editor Nancy Orel of Bowling Green State University.

The book discusses how older LGBT adults have been shaped by social stigma and discrimination. LGBT elders grew up in a particularly oppressive time, which continues to affect their well-being. In turn, these individuals also have developed coping mechanisms to adapt to stigma, negativity, discrimination, and the challenges of aging.

“We didn’t want another book that talked about all the bad things about being LGBT and aging,” Fruhauf said. “We really wanted it to talk about positive aspects, and resilience came into play.”

Michael Adams, executive director of Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE), wrote the foreword for the book and acknowledged Fruhauf and Orel’s work as an “outstanding effort to deepen our collective understanding of LGBT aging.” He also “welcomed their continued contributions to theory and practice as we work together to realize this shared agenda of transforming the landscape for LGBT older adults and their families.”

The American Psychological Association approached Orel after she and Fruhauf co-wrote a book chapter on LGBT grandparenting, and asked her to work on a book relating to LGBT aging and family issues. She would only agree if she could partner with her colleague Fruhauf. After two years of countless phone calls, email and taking turns editing chapters, the APA published the book.

Fruhauf and Orel have written papers together for 13 years, but they met when Orel interviewed Fruhauf after she finished her postdoctoral work at Virginia Tech and was in the job market.

“When I interviewed for Bowling Green State in Ohio, even though I didn’t end up there, I found this great colleague,” Fruhauf said. “We had similar research interests around grandparent-grandchild relationships, and we bonded through them.”

Fruhauf and Orel are doing presentations on their new book this year at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5-9 and at The Aging in America 2015 American Society on Aging Conference in Chicago, Ill. March 23-27.