LGBT Baby Boomers Turn to ‘Chosen Family’

Images of a conventional nuclear family are apt to be less pertinent in ads that address lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) baby boomers. But marketers would do well to acknowledge the importance “chosen family” has for many of these consumers.

In a report released by the MetLife Mature Market Institute (in conjunction with the American Society on Aging), 64 percent of the LGBT boomers surveyed said they have a “chosen family,” defined as “a group of people to whom you are emotionally close and consider ‘family’ even though you are not biologically or legally related.”

The survey also shed light on the above-average importance close friends have for LGBT 45-64-year-olds. It asked respondents to say whether they turn to close friends for support in various ways. Fifty-four percent of LGBTs (vs. 40 percent of respondents in general) said they do so “to confide in”; 32 percent of LGBTs (vs. 20 percent) for “help with errands”; 53 percent (vs. 41 percent) “for support and encouragement”; 42 percent (vs. 25 percent) “in an emergency”; and 53 percent (vs. 43 percent) “for advice.” LGBT boomers also have slightly more close friends on average than does the general boomer population (5.7 vs. 5.3).

Friends take on added import since 33 percent of LGBT boomers live alone, vs. 18 percent of boomers in general. It’s also the case that LGBTs’ real family members may not be accepting of them. While half the LGBTs in the survey (fielded in December) said “their family members are ‘completely’ or ‘very’ accepting of their lives as LGBT people,” 14 percent said family members are “not very” or “not at all” accepting.