A comprehensive survey conducted by the University of East Anglia (UEA) in collaboration with King’s College London and University College London has unveiled a striking revelation regarding the sexual lives of older gay and bisexual men in the United Kingdom. Contrary to common misconceptions that older individuals tend to lead less sexually active lives, this research shatters such notions and highlights the continued vibrancy of their sex lives, even into their 70s.
Challenging Social Expectations
Society often carries an expectation that as individuals age, their sexual activity diminishes, particularly among those who are single. However, the UEA study defies this stereotype, showcasing that this assumption does not hold true for all. Initially intended to investigate the spread of mpox, the study turned its focus towards the sex lives of gay and bisexual men over 70 years of age in the UK.
The research involved conversations with over 5,000 individuals aged 18 and older, with a significant portion sampled from the general population and 1,867 gay or bisexual men recruited through social media channels in 2022. The results were surprising. Among those over the age of 70, 17 percent of gay or bisexual men reported having more than one sexual partner in the past three weeks, and 25 percent of those invited through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Grindr revealed they had concurrent partners. In contrast, only two percent of straight individuals over 70 reported having multiple partners.
The survey also uncovered gender disparities in sexual activity among older individuals. While 79 percent of heterosexual women and half of straight men aged 70 and above reported having no sexual partners in the last three weeks, 65 percent of heterosexual women reported having one partner consistently until they reached 50 years of age, after which there was a significant increase in reporting no sexual partners at all.
Lead researcher Dr. Julii Brainard from UEA’s Norwich Medical School emphasized the importance of challenging assumptions in light of these findings, stating, “Before this study, many models about sexually transmitted diseases assumed that everyone over a certain age stopped being sexually active. But the answer is more nuanced, and it partly depends on people’s sexuality.”
Expanding Research Horizons
Dr. Louise Smith, a research fellow and survey coordinator at King’s College London, noted that lesbians, bisexual women, and trans individuals were not included in the final data due to limited recruitment in these groups. She suggested that further research into other minority sexualities and gender identities could provide valuable insights into the intricacies of sexual behavior and enable the development of tailored public health messaging for different segments of the UK population.
This groundbreaking study challenges preconceptions and highlights the significance of understanding the diverse sexual experiences of older LGBTQ individuals, shedding light on a topic that has long been surrounded by stereotypes and assumptions.