Gay people who come out later in life face unique obstacles | Lifestyles

CHICAGO (AP) — A lot can be hidden behind a marriage. For Brad and Cyndi Marler, it was that they are both gay.

A few years after their wedding, they told each other their secret. Then, for more than three decades, they told no one else.

“We always said it was us against the world,” Brad said.

After living what they call “the all-American life” in the small Illinois towns of Smithton and Freeburg, the Marlers, now both in their late 50s, decided they need to “live authentically.” They’ve come out to their two adult children — a son and a daughter — and are navigating new lives in Chicago.

While research from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy shows that people in the U.S. are coming out at a younger age than previous generations, Brad and Cyndi are part of a segment of the LGBTQ community that waits until later in life.

“Society is still inhospitable. That’s not to deny so many amazing shifts in public attitudes, in laws, in policies, but it did not wash away a hundred years of homophobia in society,” said Ilan Meyer, a distinguished senior scholar of public policy with the Williams Institute.

Bob Mueller, 75, who grew up in suburban Chicago and now lives in Iowa, didn’t breathe a word of his sexual orientation to his family until he was 40, when he wanted them to meet his partner. And he still didn’t tell everyone.

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