Article by Jacqui Baker
Coming out mid-life/later in life – when someone accepts and discloses their sexual or gender identity as something other than straight/cisgender (gender when born).
Recently we have seen Dame Kelly Holmes come out as gay at the age of 52. She explained that at last, she can live life as her real self now and in the future.
Currently, the ITV soap, Emmerdale is running a storyline about Mary, who recently came out in her early 70s, saying that she knew she preferred women from when she was a young girl, but never said it out loud until now, some 50 years plus down the line. She had done what society expected her to do in her youth, meet a man, get pregnant and live happily ever after because the alternative would have been too devastating for her family and close friends as well as the fear of rejection or abandonment and because the reality is they were living the very best life that they could at the time with the information that they had (also back in the late 60s, 70s and 80s were stigmatisation did not make it easy to open up about your sexuality many took the expected path that the character Mary portrays in the TV show)
The obstacles coming out later in life presents
The unique obstacles that coming out later in life presents can include heightened anxiety and fear as well as managing the expectations of your family, friends, and work colleagues/employers, especially if you are undergoing gender reassignment.
Many have said that they have waited until their parents passed away before coming out as the disappointment to them would be unbearable.
Mary (Emmerdale) like many, experienced the initial shock of her daughter but then at a time accepted. But these things happen more quickly in the soap world whereas in real life may take several years before children speak to their gay parent again. Our advice is if you are thinking or have been thinking for some time (years) about coming out then take your time and trust your feelings, no pressure, only you will know when you are comfortable to take the smallest step first, tell your most trusted friend or family member, then move at a pace that works for you – you may find as soon as you have said it out loud to someone you suddenly feel excited and liberated and ready to connect with the LGBTQ community.
I am contacted regularly by mid-life/later-in-life gay seniors who have found themselves on this new, exciting, scary path and they often feel they are too old for the gay scene or are not in good enough shape. They are desperate to make up for a lost time but don’t know the best way to go about it.
Just like straight singles mid-life/later-in-life I advise them on their baggage, fear of finding love and how to take their time in approaching the new dating world that bears no resemblance to the one they left some 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Most importantly that they are still the person they were before coming out except they are now presenting a newer, better version to the world.
Select Connections is proud to announce the launch of its all-inclusive dating service from July 2022.
We will be the first and only over the 50s only dating agency in the UK to become LGBTQ inclusive and offer support for those coming out later in life.
We have reviewed our policies and how we practice and felt that we needed to become a more inclusive introductions agency for the demographic that we represent. We also felt that we should not assume we live in a society where everyone is heterosexual and has a fixed gender identity, therefore discriminating against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
We have updated our resources and knowledge on how we can support singles later in life who are planning to come out or who have recently come out. We have a dedicated area within our website offering support and signposting on issues such as; (small example)
- How do I know I am really gay, lesbian, or transgender?
- How do I tell my friends/family/colleagues?
- How do I prepare myself for this journey?
- How do I meet someone?
- What do I do when I meet someone?