Gay Sex After 50: MSU Researcher On A Mission To Normalize, Promote Sex At All Ages – Pride Source.com

  • Pietro

Issues like the AIDS epidemic, social stigmas can be barriers to sex after 50, Lucas Prieto says

A Michigan State University PhD candidate is conducting a study focused on the sex lives of gay men over 50. “SASSY: Study on Aging and Sexual Satisfaction Among Gay Men” is the brainchild of Lucas R. Prieto. Here, Prieto talks to Pride Source about SASSY and his research.

Your website says that you are “passionate” to advance discussions on sexual satisfaction among gay men 50-plus. How old are you? And where did this passion come from?

I am 30 years old. My interest regarding sexual health and well-being started when I was younger and would watch reruns of Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s sex talk TV show. I was impressed with Dr. Ruth’s ability to be so open about sex and wanted to help people. In my opinion, we need to be more open and honest about our sex lives and educate others that sex at any age, particularly for individuals over 50, can be wonderful and beneficial to one’s health. 

Can you talk about your specific goals for the survey?

One of the goals of my study is to understand if and how gay men 50 and older are engaging in sex. My survey also focuses on ageism, particularly related to gay men, and whether or not ageism influences sexual satisfaction. Emerging evidence from previous studies [suggests] that older adults, in general, who internalize ageist messages about sex tend to have worse sexual health and well-being. I am interested [in] how this internalization translates to the gay community, as gay culture tends to normalize ageism.

Gay men 50 and over grew up in the age of AIDS, likely knew friends who died of the disease and often recall the fear and stigma. They may be living with HIV themselves. How do these lived experiences affect sexual health and habits among older gay men?

We are missing a big portion of the gay male population, which would be the current generation of gay men over 50, due to the AIDS epidemic. This massive loss in the gay community created a negative connotation regarding sex and gay men, which may have made it more difficult for the current generation of gay men 50 and older to navigate sexual behavior and unlearn sexual stigmas. Currently, advancements in sexual medicine, such as PrEP, which has a high percentage rate of decreasing the risk of being infected with HIV, has changed how gay men today engage in sex. 

Is there any advice you can give gay men over 50 about the advantages of a healthy sex life?

There are several benefits of leading a healthy sex life. For example, those who lead a [satisfying] sex life are associated with higher life satisfaction and better physical and mental health. My best advice for gay men who are 50 and older regarding sex is to pursue a healthy sex life, and do not get discouraged if you have a few mishaps along the way. There are so many negative signals emanating from society postulating that older adults must stop engaging in sex after a certain age, especially in the gay community, which is false. 

If you are unsure of where to start your path toward a better and healthier sex life, ask yourself what are your individual barriers to sex? If partner selection is lacking, attend some local community events that include LGBTQIA+ individuals to connect with others. If there are physical or psychological barriers, reach out to your primary provider or a clinician that specializes in sex to discuss your options. Additionally, if you are content with not having sex, that is your absolute prerogative, and you are valid. Sex is not the same for all individuals and you have to find out what is right for you and what are your own wants and needs.

For more information about the SASSY survey, visit Prieto’s website. The survey is open to all gay men 50 plus who live in the state of Michigan. The survey takes approximately 15 minutes and, as a gift for taking it, you will receive a $10 Amazon gift card.

Jason A. Michael

Jason A. Michael joined Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography “Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story,” released on his own JAM Books imprint.