Healthcare and services Research

The Experience of Older Gay Men Living in Non-metropolitan British Columbia


Robert Mark Savage


March 2019


This dissertation explores the experience of non-metropolitan aging among 30 older selfidentified gay men in Kelowna, the Southern Interior, Powell River, the Duncan-Nanaimo corridor, and on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. A review of the literature revealed that little is known about the aging experience of older gay men in non-metropolitan regions. This qualitative study collected narrative details from participants including their life stories, their patterns of migration and related issues to better understand the experiences of living and aging in non-metropolitan locations. The primary data collection method was a semi-structured interview conducted with each participant in their own home and lasting approximately two hours in length.

These interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim for subsequent thematic analysis. A secondary method was used concomitantly with the interviews whereby participants were encouraged to use participated generated images (photos taken for the purpose of our interview and/or photos selected from personal albums) to highlight some part of their life story and/or some component of their non-metropolitan life. The analysis uncovered four themes: the life story lines of gay men, migration factors, rewards and challenges of nonmetropolitan aging. Results suggest that older gay men share many migration factors, rewards and challenges of non-metropolitan aging with their peers in the heterosexual population – an important finding in itself.

Key additional findings included: both positive and negative appraisals of local non-metropolitan LGBT organizations, a sense that gay community in nonmetropolitan regions differs from the gay community in urban settings, and a description of social networks that differ from the social networks of their urban dwelling gay counterparts. The discussion of these key findings suggests that the lives of older gay men could be optimized with the further development and improvement of LGBTQ organizations and community in their respective regions.


Savage, R. M. (2019). The Experience of Older Gay Men Living in Non-metropolitan British Columbia [D.Soc.Sc., Royal Roads University (Canada)].

Open Access