In the pursuit of living life celebrating their authentic selves, some women are finding same-sex love later in life after separating from their partners.
Stars like SATC actress Cynthia Nixon, Mary Portas, musician Alison Goldfrapp and Arrested Development’s Portia De Rossi have all left husbands to be with women in midlife.
Most recently, Chrishell Stause of the hit Netflix show Selling Sunset has embraced her queerness, saying in the season six trailer, “I know people think I’m having a mid-life crisis, but I’m having an awakening,” about her new relationship with Australian musician, Georgia Flipo.
Celebrating her new-found bisexual joy, Stause shared during the season five reunion: “I recently have been spending a lot of time with someone that’s very important to me. Their name is G-Flip, they’re non-binary, so they go by they/them.”
While you can still be queer and celebrate each other’s sexualities in a heterosexual coupling, for Stause and plenty more, separation from their marriages and previous relationships has led to an awakening that flies in the face of those who say that bisexuality and queerness are “just a phase.”
Researchers are finding that our sexual identity can actually change as we get older. Dr Lisa Diamond is a specialist on the topic of sexuality and conducted a study with 79 women over the course of 10 years.
She found that two-thirds of the women changed their sexual identity labels over time, and one-third changed labels two or more times, highlighting that sexuality is fluid for many.
“In my study, what I often found was that women who may have always thought that other women were beautiful and attractive would, at some point later in life, actually fall in love with a woman, and that experience vaulted those attractions from something minor to something hugely significant,” explained Dr Diamond in an interview.
“It wasn’t that they’d been repressing their true selves before; it was that without the context of an actual relationship, the little glimmers of occasional fantasies or feelings just weren’t that significant.”
It seems that when a relationship becomes a real prospect is when some women decide to pursue the feelings that they haven’t previously acted on.
In an interview, psychotherapist Caron Barruw describes one woman, who she says was “in her 50s, for whom other women had never entered her head.
“She got married, had children, was very sexually active with her husband. Then he had an affair and she met this woman at a dinner, fancied her out of the blue and is now happily married to her.”
Rather than simply one day ‘switching’ sexuality, Barruw reckons that the new era of sexual fluidity and openness around talking about sex has allowed people to express themselves and pursue relationships they might not have previously.
So, what to do if you’re thinking of exploring your queer side later in life?
One TikTokker shared her tips, saying that it’s important to have patience when starting in the dating scene. It might take you a while to find someone you like or connect with, especially on dating apps.
She also says, “Finding your aesthetic and your identity is going to be just as much fun as dating — especially with later in lifers, coming out is like a second adolescence.”
One commenter shared their anxieties, saying: “Baby gay over 50 filled with fear that I am too old. Normative heterosexuality/ patriarchal ageism fear is deep.”
Another shared, “I’m 47 and came out yesterday. I am absolutely terrified!”, with the video creator, Ruth, replying, “Welcome! And congratulations!! So proud of you!!”
Coming out, at any age, is definitely something worth celebrating. To all our LGTBQ+ readers, young or old — we see you and we support you.