Health and wellbeing Healthcare and services Research

A Different Shade of Grey: Intimacies of Older Filipino Gay Men in Canada


Fritz Pino




This dissertation is a qualitative study, which examined the experiences of intimacy of the older Filipino gay men in Canada. These group of men identify as bakla, which is the Filipino term for queer or non-normative gender and sexual identity, practices, and performances. I specifically investigated how older bakla engage and express their intimacies with the three significant groups of people in their lives, namely, their sexual partner, their family or bloodrelated kin, and their friends.

The purpose of such inquiry was to understand the relationship dynamics that older bakla have with these three groups. Such significant figures are the potential sources of social and emotional support of the older bakla. Intersectionality theory from a queer diasporic–feminist gerontological lens informed the study that takes into account the social location of the informants in terms of sexuality and gender, race, diaspora, age, and class. In this study, I used both participant observations and in-depth interviews as the main methods of data collection. These methods were informed by a culturally-grounded approach, called kuwento, a Filipino version of storytelling. This type of storytelling allowed the informants of the study to articulate their experiences in a manner that was comfortable, accessible, and convenient for them.

Using grounded theory for data analysis, older bakla revealed a different experience of iii intimacy with their significant others. A story of difference exists, because they do not necessarily resonate to the dominant stories of aging. Their stories of intimacies offer critique of the norms and dominant discourses of identity. As well, older bakla’s intimacies illuminate their sense of agency in negotiating the norms of gender, sexuality, ageing, class, diaspora, and race that have marginalized and oppressed their beings and subjectivities. In the conclusion, I discuss how their intimacies with significant others, which are conditioned by uncertainty, impact their well-being and ageing bodies and how these informed critical social work education and practice. This study offers important contributions to the field of gerontological social work, sexuality and queer studies, migration and transnationalism, and anti-oppressive epistemologies.


Pino, F. L. (2019). A Different Shade of Grey: Intimacies of Older Filipino Gay Men in Canada [Ph.D., University of Toronto (Canada)].

Open Access