I’m Tammy WhyNot, country-western star turned lesbian performance artist, and I’ve been going all over everywhere trying to learn about getting older and having sex. I’m comin’ up to seventy myself and I’ve been noticing some things startin’ to change for me, so I wanted to talk to other people about what they thought about ageing and sex, intimacy, relationships, romance and care. So I made a lil’ touring show (catch me on Saturday 6th May at Hotbed Festival!) to meet older folks in the States and the UK and Europe. Here’s six of Tammy’s favourite findings from the project so far
- Y’all are certainly still doin’ it!
Don’t ever believe that sex stops at 50; I’ve met people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who are still sexually active – women and men, heterosexual and queer, from all kinds of backgrounds, with a partner, with several and with themselves. I’ve even met a couple in their seventies in New York who have sex every day without fail. Of course, sex doesn’t remain important for everyone as they get older, but there’s far more of it amongst us elders than you might expect.
- Fun times can be hard to find
I did discover that casual sex can be hard to come by for a lot of elders, even if they’re on the lookout for it. There just aren’t the same kinds of spaces, technologies or facilities for older people to meet each other and hook up as there are for the Tinder generation.
- “I ain’t ironing any more shirts!”
That’s something I heard a few times from older (heterosexual) women. A lot of them were prepared to forego sex to retain their independence and avoid the kinds of domestic duties and roles that are still very common in traditional relationships of their generation.
- Elevator’s occupied! Behind closed doors in care homes
When I was first researching my show, I spent some time in residence at a care home in Croatia. I couldn’t believe it when some of the residents told me they were still having sex, in the care home, despite living communally and sharing twin beds with a roommate. “Well, we do it in the elevator” they told me. The home’s managers were aware of this, and even had a process where elders cold room together if they found someone they wanted to hook up with. This reflects a growng effort to address the need for physical contact and intimacy amongst residents in dementia homes and assisted living communities.
- How we’re getting on-line
A few older people I spoke to said they had tried to meet new partners using dating websites or apps, and more said they were interested in trying it. A lot of us need a bit of help learning how to navigate these kinds of sites, to set up profiles etc. There also seems to be a degree of fear to overcome, to feel safe meeting someone in real life and not be vulnerable to abuse or scams.
- Keep that pink guitar in tune: STIs amongst elders (video)
The rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) being contracted is dropping in the general population,but on the rise amongst the over-50s. For people becoming sexually active again after a long monogamous relationship, or who aren’t worried about becoming pregnant, there is little information out there about sexual health, how to use protection and keep yourself safe. For many in the older generation, it can feel taboo to even bring up sex, let alone STIs.
The good news is Tammy’s decided to help y’all out, and has written a song about how to take care of your “pink guitar” and steer clear of STIs. Have a listen and watch our music video here –>
That’s just a lil’ taste of the whole wonderful world of sex and ageing. Hear some more stories, maybe even share your own, and meet Tammy and her fabulous elder WhyNets at her show, or at split-britches.com/TammyWhyNot or on Tammy’s social media! Twitter | YouTube | Instagram
Catch Tammy WhyNot in What Tammy Needs to Know About Getting Old and Having Sex at Camden People’s Theatre on Saturday 6th May at 9pm. Book your tickets now!