‘I met my now-husband Matthew on Twitter when I was 50,’ Jim Croxford told Gay Star News.
‘We were both following someone else and I happened to notice one of their conversation threads. I thought it was very funny so I butted in.
‘I then noticed Matthew was funnier than the guy I was following so I followed him,’ he said.
Matthew then followed him back and they exchanged tweets and DMs for a few months.
‘The rest, as they say, is history,’ Jim said.
It then snowballed from there. They moved in with each other and five years later, tied the knot.
Jim added: ‘Happily ever after.’
Loneliness is a top concern for older LGBTI people
But not everyone is as lucky in love as Jim and Matthew.
According to a new survey from Gay Star News and Barclays, after money and health, loneliness and isolation are top concerns for LGBTI people as they get older. Around 55% of survey respondents feared getting lonely as they got older.
Nicholas McInerny, 57, volunteers for an LGBTI helpline called Switchboard. He said he has first-hand experience of this isolation and loneliness from the myriad of calls he receives from older LGBTI people.
‘One of the main questions I get asked by a lot of older people over the age of 50 is that they feel very socially isolated,’ he said.
Nicholas continued: ‘One of the questions I ask them is if they have access to the internet and sometimes they say no.’
He always encourages people to embrace the internet, when it comes to finding friends, love or sex. He said single older LGBTI people ‘may as well not exist’ without the internet.
‘Social isolation is a real problem, particularly outside the big cities,’ he said. ‘I really feel for them.’
Nicholas added: ‘The amount of gay couples I meet, I would say eight times out of ten they say they met their partner either on the internet or at a sauna.’
Where can LGBTI people find love?
It’s important to understand: What works in finding love for some won’t work for others.
At the age of 53, Nicholas (who is also the creator behind successful Radio 4 series How to Have a Perfect Marriage) met his partner – who is 15 years younger – on a site called Out Everywhere. It has an ’emphasis on the social rather than the sexual’.
He noticed one particular guy who caught his eye. Nicholas joked: ‘I looked at him and I just wanted to shag him.’
They met up and they hit it off, eventually marrying just over four years ago.
For the short time he was single after coming out and ending his almost 20-year-long marriage with his wife, he said dating, for him, was all about finding activities that didn’t necessarily centre around sex.
He said he also tried a site called Outdoor Lads, which is a group of ‘gay, bisexual and trans men who get together to enjoy adventures and activities.’
Nicholas said: ‘They organize social events rather than dick pics.’
There are also sites like Meetup, where you can focus on a social activity like a gay pump class, museum tour or LGBTI tennis lessons.
Over a third of LGBTI people want more sex as they get older
A common misconception about older LGBTI people is a dwindling sex and romantic life. While this is true for some, our survey actually found over a third of LGBTI people want more sex as they get older.
Gay Star News asked survey respondents: ‘What do you think about sex and getting older?’
The most popular response, with 38% of the vote, was: ‘I want more sex’.
Then, when given a list of options, people were asked: ‘What would you like to do with your retirement?’ (They could choose multiple options).
The most popular responses were ‘Travel’ (69%), then ‘Have more sex’ (43%) and ‘Spend more time with friends’ (40%).
Mark Flood, 55, is a single gay man and lives in Tenerife, Spain.
He said: ‘I have met several guys and had loads of offers since turning 50.’
Mark uses dating apps Grindr, GROWLr and Scruff, but noted: ‘The profile of the guys who come on to me has changed.’
He explained: ‘I find I get a lot of offers from guys 18-21 years old who are looking for a daddy – it feels like it is more to satisfy their fantasy than a genuine interest in me.’
Many people we interviewed similarly said they’ve gotten more interest from younger people as they’ve gotten older.
John (not his real name) is 51 years old and said he hasn’t suffered a reduction in sex at all.
In fact, he said: ‘I find as I get older, there are even more men interested in me. A lot in their 20s and 30s.
‘It surprised me that my sexual opportunities in my 50s are just as high as ever before,’ he said.
One popular site for older gay, bisexual and trans men is Caffmos. It’s specifically for older men looking for younger partners.
Ian Rutter, 56, met his partner on Caffmos. He said the app is for ‘older gentlemen and their younger admirers’.
They just got married last month.
It’s not an app, just a very old fashioned website,’ he joked. ‘[It was] probably developed 2,000 years ago.’
LGBTI people and dating apps
According to our survey, 40% of survey respondents are on dating apps. Of these, almost 60% of respondents said dating apps are ‘totally’ ageist.
The survey also found one in four gay and bisexual men lie about their age on dating profiles.
That number climbed only three percent, to 28%, among only people who have retired.
JW is a 50-year-old gay man from Scotland.
He’s tried dating apps like Tinder, Grindr and Plenty of Fish.
He said: ‘[I] didn’t personally experience ageism, but noticed there were a significant number of profiles with age bars on them.’
A number of these were actually people in his own age bracket. He said Tinder and Grindr were more for people interested in hook-ups but the best app for him was Gaydar.
He lives in Fife in Scotland – just north of Edinburgh.
JW said: ‘[The] dating scene was poor and non-existent. Fife is not the centre of gay culture and the nearest ‘scene’ is Edinburgh.
‘We were both on Gaydar and had a few dates,’ he said.
In November, he’ll have been with his partner for two years.
Phil Taylor, 53, from Exeter in the UK, said he only ever used Gaydar to make friends when he moved to a new city.
He said: ‘I made some good friends who I still see 15 years later but no love interests.’
‘But here’s the interesting thing,’ he added. ‘I experienced ageism from people the same age or older but get more attention from younger lads these days.’
He actually met his partner at work, when he was in his early 40s. His partner is 13 years younger than him but ‘it works because he acts older and I act younger,’ he joked.
His advice to people finding love is to just take each day as it comes and be open to broadening your expectations.
He said: ‘I would say keep on partying until you feel it’s no longer your thing. Age shouldn’t dictate that, your feelings will.’
Phil said he ‘truly believes’ in taking a leap of faith and giving people chances you wouldn’t usually give a second look to.
He said: ‘It has given me 12 years of love and laughter.’