Do Older Men Turn Gay?

I have been writing about intergenerational gay relationships for some time now, and tangentially about men who have come out late in life.  As a blogger on WordPress I can see some of the search terms that bring people to my site.  Curiously one that comes up, in various forms, time and again is the question;  “Why do older men turn gay?”

I suspect that this question comes from siblings, children, and/or spouses of someone that has come out late in life.  These people may be looking for answers during a time when their world has become challenging and confusing.  This makes a lot of sense.  These individuals have viewed this man in traditional heterosexual roles of husband and/or father, but all of a sudden he is, seemingly, claiming to be someone completely different.

However, I think this question “why do older men turn gay?”, is a bit limiting.  In this post I will reflect on my experience, the experiences of others, and the nature of male sexuality to shed some light on this issue.  We’ll start by taking a look at two competing theories about human sexuality and see how those may relate to coming out as an older man.

People are Born Gay

The first theory of human sexuality, and one that I think is embraced by much of the gay male community, is the notion that sexuality is defined early in life (likely childhood) and is unchanging.  In this instance a person coming out late in life did not turn gay, rather they have been gay all along, but for a variety of reasons chose to live a straight lifestyle.  Many gay men recount stories about knowing they were different at a very young age.  For myself I started recognizing attractions to men early in my teens, though I tried to deny it even to myself for years.  Much of my social circle consists of older gay men.  A large percent of them were married at one time, but most if not all recount early attractions or sexual relations with men even before getting married.

Sexuality is Fluid

A second interpretation of human sexuality is that orientation is fluid and can shift over time.  This view recognizes that human sex orientation is a continuum from having solely attraction to the same sex on one end and solely heterosexual attraction on the other end, with individuals in between that have varying levels of attraction to both genders.  One may be mostly attracted to the same sex, but hold slight attractions to the opposite sex or vice-versa.  Under the fluidity model, throughout life people shift along this continuum, though often not shifting great distances.  In the case of men who come out late this may mean they fell somewhere in the middle of the continuum, but closer to the heterosexual end, earlier in life.  However, later in life their attractions shifted more towards men.  Likely, all along there was an attraction to men, but because of social pressures and familial expectation these bisexual men tended toward heterosexual relationships.  That said, scientific studies of the subject tend to recognize this sort of fluidity in women more often than in men.

Motivations for Playing it Straight

It should be understood that men who come out late and have been married, and perhaps even had children, were often under a lot of social and familial pressure to do so.  Even more striking compared to contemporary gay experience, many coming of age prior to the 1970s met institutional condemnation of homosexuality in the field of psychology.  Seeking the aid of a psychologist meant being told that getting married and having kids, denial of one’s feelings and attractions, was the cure.  Once established in such a relationship, especially after having kids, the pressure to stay straight is even stronger.  Coming out can have repercussions on social status, employment, and last but not least a fear of hurting their loved ones.  Understandably, the wives and children of gay men that come out late may feel betrayed or unwanted.  But, as I speak with gay men that have transitioned from straight life, I usually hear nothing but love and respect for those family members.

Why Come Out Now?

The timing and reasons for coming out, young or old, married or not, are ultimately very personal for every gay man.  But, for those that have been married I’ve noticed some common experiences.  First, for some men, leading a double life becomes unbearable.  While not all married gay men cheat on their wives with other men, some do.  This way of life carries it’s own stresses and ultimately the man is discovered, or decides it would be better if he outs himself before he is discovered. For others, I think coming out late may often coincides with a midlife crisis.  After living so long the way they are expected to live, middle aged men begin to realized they are running out of time to live they way they want to live.  Also, during this time their children are getting older and becoming more independent.  The timing for coming out may coincide with feeling that their family is capable of coping with the stress, with the sense of loss.

I am pleased to say though that I’ve seen a number of families that have weathered such a storm.  It takes time, but after the hurt feelings and tumultuous time of change, families of gay fathers often return to a place of love, caring, and mutual respect, only now in a new form.

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37 Responses

  1. This is a really interesting piece. Thank you.

  2. I admire your answer, but I think men can become bored with women when they have had experenced to many different one and none mogonomous. So I feel the search for new horizions, may include other men. The challange is the prusit and when we tyre of catching we try to catch something different.

  3. Just keep in mind every man is different. There is no solid this what it could be; this is what’s not. Because every man’s expierience in life is different. The numbers of reasons for men behaving the way they do sexually and otherwise for relationships are numerous.

  4. I’m a 60-year-old man who, after a devastating breakup with my last girlfriend, decided to become gay. After such heartbreak and emotional stress, I no longer wanted to be with a woman again. But what to do about sex? I decided the best thing for me was to reach out to other men for any future sexual encounters. Since I had never, ever had a gay thought in my life, I knew accepting such a major departure from everything I’d ever known wasn’t going to be easy. I had to alter my entire thinking processes of what I knew, to what was completely foreign. It was a long process in which I had to teach myself that another man’s body could be just as attractive, and just as sensual as a woman’s. In my mind, I had to become a willing partner, enjoying whatever pleasures might come my way. I used the internet, magazines, online chatrooms and my own vivid imaginations in order to immerse myself in a new sexual identity. Finally, after working up enough courage to take my efforts to their logical conclusion, I made a date with a gay man in my community who I met online. I was totally shocked to find that I loved every minute of our time together. The new sensations, tastes and smells, although completely new to my senses, were an absolute wonder to behold. In fact, I was completely surprised at how natural being with another man could be — in many ways, a lot more normal than being with a woman.

    I realize most — if not all — people will tell you that you’re either born gay or you’re not ever going to be gay. I’m sorry, but in my case that old argument doesn’t hold water. And no, I’m not “Bi” either, as I don’t enjoy women at all anymore, and whenever I have thoughts of, have fantasies of, or visualize sex in my mind, it’s always now with another man. I’m glad I took the steps necessary to becoming gay. It certainly has opened up an exciting and rewarding new chapter to my life.

    • MY experience. My first gay experience occurred at age 63. Although I had only had sex with women until then, it felt really natural to be in bed with another guy. I love it!

      • there is an amazing adventure for lots men to transform and discover a new life. its so awesome to learn that there is more out there regarding the realm of sensuality and sexuality. i was aproached by many men later on and never gave it time to poder. i decided to keep on looking when i had the chance. when you have an open mind, you learn a new way of feelngs and yearnings.

    • I felt like this in my 30s and tried it out the same. I felt all the same feelings as you about gay sex which is amazing

    • Karl, I loved reading your post. From time to time I struggle with my own feelings about sex. As I get older, I’ve become more open to expeloring my sexuality. Thank you for your piece.

    • Good on you Karl. I enjoyed reading about your journey to man love x

  5. Nice to here that I am not the lone ranger here ,I am 63 and married for 42 yrs.I kind of thought about the fact that I was gay since I was a young boy but growing up back then I just was not allowed to be that way so I just tried to hide it and live a straight life.I retired last year and looked back at my life and although over the years I did have male to male sex I came to the reality that I am gay and I came out and told my family and some of my close friends.I think that my wife is trying to accept it and my children and grandchildren do ,only one friend could not so I guess that he was not really a friend to begin with.
    Since I did come out I am on some kind of a gay high like going to gay clubs “bath houses” and wanting to go to gay bars and dress in a fashion to attract a gay man such as wearing nylon stockings with bluejeans just to show that I am gay.This kind of life is all kind of new to me and I do not know how to handle it without hurting those that I love ,I will be thankful for any advise.Jerry

    • Jerry,
      Everyone’s experience is different, however I think there are some rules to live by. As you come out to old friends and family that know you from your straight life take it slow. Be honest, but don’t be brutally honest. Recognize that it will take them time to get used to your new identity. Also, take time for yourself; you’ll need it to process your own experiences without getting overwhelmed. This can be a very emotional time for both you and your family, that is normal.

    • jerry that scene is not good at this stage the gay scene is a cruel bitchy place dont jump in like that its a minefield young twink guys will have a radar for a sugar dad back off mate take your time

  6. I am a 59 year old man who has always had attractions to men but have been married twice to women. I have now decided to explore romantic relationships with men. I am normally attracted to men younger than myself, perhaps between 30 and 40. But it seems very difficult to find men who are interested in a man my age, even though I am in good shape and young acting for my age

  7. im a gay man who is not out i had a freind who was 70 im 53 we watch sport and socilaise but i was always attracted to him he is a widower and i always got the impression he would like to get closer becoue of our working class backgrounds it was and still is to dicey to open up

    • I’m 60, married and have led a bisexual life for the last 40 years. Trouble is, I love older men and as I’m getting older myself it’s geting harder to find men who still want to be sexually active.

  8. my wife lost interest in sex years ago: to have sex with another woman seemed a lot more risky than with another man. i can have sex with a man without the drama. i am almost seventy and still have a sexual outlet: it seems to work for me.

  9. You don’t know how important this article is for me, it fits me like a glove. MY wife is calling me selfish and why do I do I want to destroy the family. I just want to be the person I was supposed to be from childhood. Thanks

  10. As a 52 yo gay man having gone ‘full circle’ from straight teenager with girlfriends and somewhat homophobic, to bisexual, then in my early 20’s to gay thereafter.

    I have experienced the best of both worlds and what works for me is choice. I Chose and Choose to be gay. I’m happy and that’s the key.

    BTW I’m still not out to family and friends, why would I want to inflict the knowledge of my selfish choices on the ones I love. If I feel they are better off not knowing (in my opinion) then its my choice to tell them or not! Think of the consequences on others before yourself! Wishing you all a prosperous 2013 from a Paddy in London UK xx

    • Hi Jack,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m curious why you made the shift from being straight as a teenager to gay in you twenties and why you’ve never gone back to women since then? Also, why do you feel that it is selfish to be gay?

      • Hi again,

        Thanks for your interest in my thoughts.

        The first question re: shifting from straight to gay is a small book which needless to say, curiosity and libido played a big part. The reason I never went back to woman is that after a little initial wobble, I settled into long term relationships with men, the current is 10 years and previously: 16 years “je ne regrette rien”!

        To qualify my use of the word ‘selfish’. I was referring to my personal choice to be gay and the repercussions that choice may have on myself and others if they knew. It’s a simple choice for me, if I came out, I would loose family over it. Therefore, I’m not going there, its a no brainer for me.

  11. i a a 40 year old not married and i love oldermen, recently i am not out yet but iknow i am homosexual, recently i get involved with a 72 year old gay men, who took advantage of me of my unwarnes and he had a week of good fun, and he left me without explanation. how can i trust somebody else when my first experience was bitter?

    • George thats simple. He ran out of Viagra! Just make sure you stock up for the next. In my experience if they’re over 60, they’re on the stuff!

  12. George dont let that experience put u off, older men are the bestI am in my late 30s, I always enjoy my time with men who are over 60s, so go ahead and keep looking am sure someone there will be for u, once again older men are the best in bed and in mind..

    and best wishes for Karl too xx

    all the best

    • Hi George , I always knew I was Bi but really more so gay , I have always liked older mature men from the time I knew why I was looking at them.
      I never had any sex with a man or more so guys of my own age when I was younger but when I as 38 I met a gay guy who was looking after a house for 2 gay friends of his , he was in his mid 50’s who I liked a lot and may have done anything to be with him , This was the first man I had ever had sex with , to make things worse he didn’t like uncut guys as I am but he did like me and asked me to spend a night with him .
      I loved that first night so much I was willing to get cut just for this man (how stuppid was that), he asked me to spend a second night with him about 3 days later but before i would get to the house I would phone to make sure the coast was clear,When I called he wouldn’t answer the phone and i knew he was home , I didn’t know what had happen or what I did wrong . I will not go into all the details but it was 2 weeks of hell with this man , I never got to be with him again and I felt like you , hurt and I never wanted to meet a gay man again if this is how they were .
      The guy I met was looking after to older gay friends home , they were both 67 years old and that was more the age I liked , they found out about me through a third party and the 2 older gay men called me , this was about 2 months after the peoblems with there friend , they never knew of my meeting with there friend at the time . Long story short I felt I should give the 2 man a chance and not judge them for what happen , I met them on the 28th of September 1998 and by the end of November I moved in with them and have been living with 2 of the loveliest guys I could have ever wished for still t this day ,
      DON’T give up just because one guy hurts you , you will find someone who will care about as much as you care for them.

  13. i am a gay at 40,s imet a friend who is at 40,s he was madly behind me and was ready to do nething .he was nothing without me but i s married with 2 kids.but in bed he is passive and i have to blow him everyday.he says he is not for actually sex he is deeply in love with me….can anyone answer this doubt of mine please…

  14. My experience began in my 20s, a year or two after the Stonewall incident. At that time I wondered about gay life and I experimented twice with men. In my first encounter I was passive and never thought I might be gay. The second time, the man tried to kiss me and I got terrified. I swore off all inklings that I might be gay.
    Over the next several year, howevers, I had numerous fantasies and I would read copies of Playgirl (for the pictures) and fantasize. I had no actual physical encounters.
    I continued to fantasize, read periodicals and I would tell myself, “I’m not gay but if I was, that’s the guy I would be with”(a buff model whose pictures I swooned over.
    Finally, at the age of 48, I sought out a man. This was my first truly sexual encounter with another man, and I ended up going home quite disappointed because I had performed oral sex but he did not.
    I was perturbed, but also I had a heightened awareness of what was happening. Also, he was a smoker and his kisses were not pleasant. Kissing him was something that I felt I had to accomplish as my earlier opportunity had scared me. Other than the unctuous flavor of his mouth, kissing him was right – very right.I was terrified, however, that I might actually be gay, and I gave a lot of thought to that possibility. After a while, I called that same man again, as I was yearning to find out more about myself. In our next encounter, we both performed oral sex on each other, and I was gratified. In the next few years we saw each other periodically.

  15. Needing to elaborate on my initial post and bring myself up to date, I’m back with more. My new friend (Steve) and I finally parted, but in the meantime I had met a couple of new friends also. I was at least semi-regularly having sexual romps with new men, one older than I and one much younger.It was with the younger man that I truly began to understand who I was. He was sexy, aggressive and delightful to look at. On our first date (we went to a movie), he came back with me to my home and immediately pulled my pants down. It was a delight. We kissed, we 69’d and I drove him home where he gave me a wonderful good-night kiss. Over the next few years, he and I enjoyed several encounters. I was also seeing others – one man older than me in particular. I found myself voraciously oral and I performed on my knees for him (Bill) virtually every time we got together. Had he not moved to Florida, I think he and I might still be together.
    I also met a man named Alix, who, in our first meeting, suggested anal sex. I consented, and he was wonderful – gentle, but thrilling. It was my first time having anal intercourse, and I found out how wonderful it is. I learned later that he already had a boyfriend, so our encounters didn’t result in any sort of love affair, though they could have if I’d had the opportunity.

  16. Another update! After Bill left my life, I became predominantly celibate. After a while, I thought I might actually have “gotten over” being gay and I married a woman. It wasn’t long before I realized that I needed male companionship to satisfy my sexual urges. I had been online (with AOL) for quite some time, and I sought refuge there again. Soon, I met a man who lives nearby, and we chatted at length.He was a widower (lost his partner to an illness), and we finally met after much online chat. He kissed me as I left his home after chatting for about an hour, and I could recognize that I’d want to see him again.
    It took a couple of years for us to meet again, and when that happened, I was so pleasantly surprised to find his demeanor as gentle and loving as could be. We would hug, kiss, hold hands, and talk at length. After a while, we’d head into his bedroom and disrobe and enjoy some sexual fun. Not long into our relationship, he told me that he loved me. I was reticent, not wanting to commit to anything. After several months went by, it was clear to me that I had fallen in love with him too.
    How do you know you’re seriously gay? When you fall in love with another man, of course…but I knew long before that anyway. Unfortunately, my marital status keeps us (kept us) apart too often, and he broke up with me a few months ago.
    I still love him and I dearly wish to be with him, but it seems like that wont be happening. Yes, I am absolutely gay.

  17. Here’s what happened to me.

    When I was younger (17 to 40) I was a very charming and good looking guy. I could easily meet women and I always met women. I have been with A LOT of women throughout my life. I have had 4 serious, loving relationships. Meeting women was easy.

    After I turned 39 or 40 women simply showed no interest in me whatsoever. I am still attracted to women, more so than ever, but things just aren’t happening for me in that arena. BTW, it’s not like I turned into a hideous creature; I am handsome, full head of hair, tall, hwp. I take pretty good care of myself. I am respectful to women, to everyone for that matter. None of this seems to matter. No women, anywhere are attracted to me anymore. So, after some thought I realized that if I ever wanted to have sex again I’d have to open up to other options. So I began having sex with men. I have been having sex with men for 8 years now. I am straight acting, I still love to meet and talk to women. I always have feelings for women but they only want to be just friends or associates. I respect that. But it’s quite clear to me that sex with women is a thing of the past for me. Therefore, I s)ck d!ck now. I have accepted that.

    That’s my story.

  18. In my early 20s I “experimented” with a couple of men. I was terrified by the second of them, who kissed me. I decided at that time that there was no way I could be gay, and I told him to go away. Throughout the next 20-plus years, however, I fantasized about men regularly. After divorcing my wife and dating a few women for about 3-4 years, I found myself more regularly considering whether a man in my life would make sense. I reached out and had my first truly sexual experience with another man at the age of 48. At 50, having met a few other men, I recognized that I was, indeed, gay. Though my life has included women since then, I am completely certain that gay is the truth for me. I’ve met a wonderful man, fell in love and hope to remain in his arms for many, many years to come. I am most interested in the phenomenon that occurs in so many of us at 40-plus, when we begin to realize that another man is necessary for us to be completely sexually satisfied.
    I am utterly pleased to know, for eternity, that I am an gay man.

  19. The term “in the closet” describes how society wanted to keep gay men. So in my case I felt religiously, morally and psychologicaly pressured to deny my attractions toward same sex. In 1978 I lost my virginity to a man, I was 18, afterwards I was so distraught and hell bound that I thought my life was over. Although my curiosity remained I fell in love with a woman and before we married I told her about my experience. She thought all young men went through this phase and convinced me that I wasn’t gay.

    23 years, 4 sons later we divorced. I secretly had a plan B if my marriage didn’t workout, I would never be with another woman. At age 42 I found myself once again praying for God to take this desire away. Finally I prayed if you choose not to remove this curse or unatural attraction that I was tired of fighting.

    I chose to accept myself for what I am. Looking back I thought it was due to being molested as a child or a dominant parent or perhaps I was born gay, who knows, I just knew I was different.

    Coming out in the 80s was not even an option. So I choose tto be what everyone expected, straight. 2003 I came out to family and that was hard. My ex wife used it against me in the divorce and tried to turn my kids against me.

    My parents accepted over time but we dont talk about it. My kids came around one by one. The youngest now 28 has respect but is still having problems with thinking he was unwanted and is homophobic to a degree. 2013 I came out to friend and family after my son posted my personal business on face book.

    I accept who I am and am not here to please everyone. More and more society is moving away from the closet thinking as more influential people come out and more people know someone who is gay.

    I believe that one day being gay will be just as socially acceptable as having a cell phone… and men will not appear to turn gay, they will just be who they are. (I grew up with rotary phone, now you are odd if you don’t text)

    I am now 53 and have transitioned from straight mentality to an open mind. Even though we can now legally marry we still cant walk down the street holding hands without dirty looks or threats. So society has a long way to go.

    I dont think I turned gay, I just pushed back against religious and traditional views. Most people just want to be viewed as normal, so they wait as I did until they no longer care as much about what other people think.

  20. i became gay at 49,after a bad marriage to a woman who turned lesbian.I then attended a gay party.One very hot male in his early 40s,began touchingmy ass,then looked me in the eys,and tongue kissed me.It was marvelous,and i fell in love with being gay.we both went to a nearby bedroom,and it was heaven.In high school,i was always looking at the boys taking there clothes off,and tried when i could to even accidentally touch there butts.I also had oral sex with a few boys when i was 14,and somehow it went in the coset for about 25 years>it never really ever left.now i know better

  21. Oh, oh oh! This topic strikes such an emotive chord in my heart! I’m 57 and lived a straight life until 4 years ago, when I (amazingly) discovered I was bi-sexual. I was stunned to realise I’d been suppressing these feelings all of my life!

    How many men are in denial?

  22. i liked girls. then i was seduced by an older man and had my first sexual experience–loved it, i’d never even masturbated before. then i started falling in love and having sex with woman. children with four of them. now i’m gay again and love it. i’ve never been in love with a man and neither have the ex married men i have sex with. good friendships but not in love—i’m in my seventies now, masturbate to gay porn every day, have absolutely no desire to fuck woman and yet find young girls incredibly sexy to look at—ain’t life great.

  23. So sad some of these tales……

  24. People like to put themselves in a definite category – homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual – as part of their identity, and this is encourged by social-scientists. I am not convinced. I think all people are simply sexual; all can enjoy sex with either the same sex or the opposite sex, or even, in the case of adolescent boys, with their bed pillows. There are plenty of examples of men being aroused without necessarily knowing the sex of the arouser; and I am sure this applies to women as well. It is a sadness to me that two men today cannot have a loving relationship without being categorised as homosexual. It used to be commonplace in Victorian times for men to walk arm in arm as good chums. In many other cultures, such as most Arab countries I know, it is usual for men to walk hand in hand (and indeed to kiss each other), and it may just be a business friendship. Can we not just let people have a loving friendship without inferring a sexual relationship? Does it matter a jot what people’s sexual life consists of?

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