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Coming out at 54: A Sweet Mid-Life Surprise

19 Jun Posted by in • Guest Writers | Comments Off on Coming out at 54: A Sweet Mid-Life Surprise
Coming out at 54: A Sweet Mid-Life Surprise

I grew up in a social and religious subculture where my family, community, school and church, exemplified the traditional expectation that boys and girls grow up to be husbands and wives. They have babies—who in turn grow up, and it all “naturally” starts over. As a young child, same sex coupling never crossed my mind. The little rumblings heard in my early teens, held the innuendo of sin, but no one in my family spoke about it out loud. Sexual orientation wasn’t discussed one way or the other—but then again neither was sex. I don’t think I ever heard my mother even speak the word ‘sex’ and if it was mentioned it was likely mouthed, rather than spoken!

As I grew into young adulthood, I questioned much of my families accepted belief system. I had my doubts that God would reject someone for who they loved. There were even times when I wondered what it would be like to be with a woman. But, given my conditioning and experiences, as well as my infatuation with one boy or another, I concluded I was heterosexual. Since I believed (and still do) that sexual orientation is immutable, that is how I lived my life.

After my second divorce, some very unfulfilling dating, and a painful reconnection with a former lover, celibacy began to look more and more appealing.

Then I met an attractive, butch, lesbian named Shelly. She was my drumming instructor; out and proud and she overtly flirted with me. It was fun. I was 54 years old and though I was immediately attracted to her, I didn’t give it much thought. After all, I am attracted to all my amazing woman friends in one way or another.

Over time I began to notice, to my surprise and delight that I was attracted to Shelly in a way I had never experienced with any other woman. After thinking for years I couldn’t be attracted to a woman, I found myself sexually attracted to this woman. My daughter, who came out to me in high school, said: “It’s not about gender, Mom. It’s about the person.”

Though nothing (beyond a kiss) came of it, the experience with Shelly revealed so much to me. It opened me to the possibilities.

In exploring these feelings with other mid-life women, I found that my story was not uncommon. For some it was simply a matter of the belated realization they had always been lesbian. Others recognized they were bisexual, previously preoccupied with caring for a husband or children. Still others couldn’t find their place in either of these camps. I came to realize an additional variable, which might play a role in this mid-life shift.

As with all mammals, nature has built into the human species the drive to procreate. Just as bears and bunnies breed, the majority of humans enter into this hormonally driven imperative toward procreation. In our attempt to ‘civilize’ this act, humans have come to call it ‘making love’ and incorporated it into what we define as relationship and marriage. This is not a judgment—just a truth. After all, the drive to procreate is required, if what is needed is the proliferation of the community, tribe, flock, pride, gaggle, etc. It is simple biology—required for the survival of the species.

With the coming of menopause, the hormones that have kept a woman fertile, begin to drop off. As a result, so might her need, and often her desire, to “mate” with a man. When her body is no longer capable of creating babies, the biological drive to do so falls away, creating an opening in the typical immutability of her sexuality, and how it manifests.

Consequently it is not surprising that, without the hormonally driven urge to mate, historically heterosexual, mid-life women may find permeability in their sexual preferences and open to the possibility of being with, in a sexually intimate way, another woman. This is not to imply that when straight women become menopausal they will flock in mass to lesbian lovers. It would seem, however, that this is an opening for relationship to be entered into from a place of choice, apart from and unfettered by biological requisites; an opening to being drawn to the individual, and perhaps for some, as is true for me, a realization that not only is sexual intimacy with a woman possible, it is preferred.

As part of my own exploration, I placed an ad on a popular lesbian dating site. Months after my membership lapsed, I was found, 230 profiles in, by the amazing woman who became my wife. On 08-08-08, we were married, with my daughter and her partner of 6 years as our witnesses. I have never been happier.

Sylvia D Saxon, (aka Ellys Phox) has worked as a social worker facilitating and encouraging prenatal care, positive parenting and birth control for teenage girls. Currently retired, Sylvia, along with her wife, our child and child’s partner live in the country outside of Placerville, CA on a beautiful ten acres known as Lofty View Homestead. Sylvia continues to write fiction. The Performance and In the Mean Time can be found on Amazon. She writes under the pen name, Ellys Phox.

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