Today, more research is being conducted to better understand what role social supports and networks play for LGBT older adults in southern Appalachia. As a part of this reasearch, High Country Area Agency on Aging Ombudsman Stevie John was afforded the opportunity to work alongside professors from Appalachian State University to help facilitate participant responses. Below you can read a brief overview of the study and findings, and you can read the entire study here.
"While research has begun to examine social networks and social support among LGBT older adults living in rural contexts, no research to date has examined these issues within the unique context of rural southern Appalachia. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study was to extend this emerging area of research by exploring the perspectives of LGBT older adults on their social networks and social support while living in rural southern Appalachia. In this study, 11 LGBT-identifying older adults were interviewed regarding their social networks and social support within the cultural context of rural Southern Appalachia. Participants generally described having rich informal social support networks that seemed to buffer and mitigate the deleterious effects of the wider culture of homophobia and transphobia. These networks, while varying from person to person, included families of choice (spouse / partner, close friends), neighbors, pets, biological family / families of origin, religious and spiritual communities, women’s or men’s social groups, and current or former coworkers. While six of the participants voiced that their support system was adequate for their needs, there were reports of mixed, tenuous, or insufficient support systems for five participants. After reviewing main findings, implications for research, practice, and policy are discussed."