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Article - post-print

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This study uses mixed-methods data and a life-course perspective to explore the role of pets in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adults age 50 and over and addresses the following research questions: (1) How does having a pet relate to perceived social support and social network size? and (2) how do LGBT older adults describe the meaning of pets in their lives? The qualitative data (N = 59) were collected from face-to-face interviews, and the quantitative data (N = 2,560) were collected via surveys from a sample across the United States. Qualitative findings show that pets are characterized as kin and companions and provide support; we also explore why participants do not have pets. The quantitative findings show that LGBT older adults with a pet had higher perceived social support; those with a disability and limited social network size, who had a pet had significantly higher perceived social support than those without a pet.

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