This is a tale of debunking two myths: one, that guys over 50 no longer have, want or need sex, and, two, that HIV/AIDS is a young guy’s disease.
A friend recently said, “To my amazement, I realized that at 65 I have a new sexual problem — scheduling!” He thought, like many of us who bought into the myth that sex disappears from our lives after 50, and for sure after 60.
The good news for older gay men is there are now many more ways to network, some may say, “hook up” with other guys, older and younger. In the past, one of the few places to meet someone was in a gay bar; today there are many more opportunities. Besides social clubs like Prime Timers, Metro Retirees or SAGE-DC, there is an explosion of social networking websites. One of the most popular for older guys is called “Silver Daddies” where all kinds of men from around the world can get to know each other.
And, of course one of the other factors enhancing the erotic life of older men is the introduction of “the little blue pill” — Viagra. The problem is not finding someone to have a sexual relationship with; the problem is keeping it safe.
With this new level of sexual freedom for gay male seniors comes the bad news in the reality of increases in HIV and other STD rates within this group.
The D.C. Health Department tells us that 72 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS are men, and of that, 71.3 percent are over 40 years old. The epidemic in the District is clearly not a “young guys” epidemic. This is due to two factors: one, because of advances in HIV treatment, people are living longer than ever, and two, new HIV infections are increasing in people over 40, 50, and even 60. In addition, the rates of HIV/AIDS among those 50 and older are 12 times as high among blacks and five times as high among Hispanics, as compared to whites.
And the federal Centers for Disease Control says: “MSM (men who have sex with men) are the only risk group in the U.S. in which new HIV infections are increasing. While new infections have declined among both heterosexuals and injection drug users, the annual number of new HIV infections among MSM has been steadily increasing since the early 1990s.”
So guys, welcome back to the party — but make it a safe one.
Sex after 60: Women Keep on Keeping on
Sex after 60 for women involves patience and lube — and of course any other toys you may want.
Lesbian, bisexual and trans (LBT) women over 60 today are the ones who came of age in the second wave of feminism and the glorious old days of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” Older women, those who were coming out in the pre-Stonewall days, are still having sex; early on, many of them were into butch/femme identification in expression and sexuality.
A friend describes sex as “any act that increases the potential for orgasm.” That opens the door wide when we then think about older women and sex acts.
Lesbian sexual liberation is strongly tied to women’s sexual liberation. In the 1950s and early ’60s, literature about women’s sexuality was always considered pornographic because the idea of women having sexual feelings was taboo.
Then came Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying in 1973. She is renowned for her description of a female fantasy the “zipless fuck.” A “zipless fuck” was defined as a sexual encounter for its own sake, without emotional involvement or commitment or any ulterior motive, between two previously unacquainted persons. It became the word of the day and for many women gave permission. The book released the taboo for women that sex was confined to a committed relationship with one person. It sold 20 million copies.
It can also be said that many women like to be wooed. Many of us love romance in all its sensuous permutations: flowers, music, candles, good food and tantalizing conversation, slow seduction, and lube (oh, I said that already).
Older lesbians experiment with sexual expression and family definition. Over the years we have moved fluidly from monogamous to polyamorous relationships, from conventional sex to a wide range of sexual play and into many creative definitions of love, sex and family. With this freedom must also come the respect of clear expectations and responsibility in the sexual realm.
The bottom line (no pun intended) is that older women still love to have sex and that sex covers a wide range of behaviors. Our sexuality can be as varied an experience for older women as it is endless. We are only constrained by our self-awareness, our socialization and our imaginations.
Older LBT women look for places to meet. Some groups in this area are SAGE Metro DC, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, and be sure to check out Hot Flash — dance parties for women 50-plus (HYPERLINK “http://www.hotflashdances.com/”http://www.hotflashdances.com/).
Ken South is with SAGE Metro-DC and Laurie Young is director, Public Policy & Government Affairs, for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.