Want days of dating fifty bet

Thomas is 56, lives in Harrogate, and recently came out of a 13-year relationship. He never thought about having to go back out on to the gay scene until recently, only to realise that “it’s a very different world” from when he was in his late thirties.

Feeling excluded from the party isn’t too difficult in a society where even 20-year-olds talk about getting Botox.

“I’m not an extrovert,” says Thomas. “I can’t go to a club in jeans and pretend the age thing doesn’t bother me when half the customers were born when the Teletubbies launched.

“The bulk of my searching for a partner, even just to have sex, has been online, which isn’t as successful or as easy as you might think.”

Mature gay men and lesbians can often feel like unwanted gatecrashers in the club and bar scene once middle-age creeps in. It is possibly why websites such as Gaydar see a sizeable demographic of the over-forties and fifties who may feel too self-conscious in ‘real’ life.

Jump out of your comfort zone and participate in social things that aren’t necessarily associated with gay people or gay culture

In many ways, the straight world is similar, especially when so much of recreational life revolves around youth and drinking. But the difference is that heterosexuals have greater choice and options around them where they can meet like-minded souls.

So, apart from gay dating sites that primarily focus on ‘flings without strings’, what are the alternatives for mature gay lonely hearts to find love?

No longer a disco bunny

Max Kershaw, a writer on titles such as Attitude, believes that gay men in particular have to change their approach and mindset if they want to open up their lives to greater choice and possibilities.

“I personally had to accept that I had passed my ‘disco bunny’ days once I hit my forties. It’s a fact of life that we’re not as appealing at 40 and 50 as we were in our twenties. The reality is that the gay scene, like its heterosexual equivalent, is youth-orientated.

“Unfortunately, dating websites are precarious and often fail to deliver the goods.”

Does Max see a solution to a scary future of endless weekends watching Antiques Roadshow and an over-reliance on online erotica?

“The best, pro-active action you can take is to jump out of your comfort zone, get out there and participate in social things that aren’t necessarily associated with gay people or gay culture.”

Friendship first

Matt and Brian are a case in point. Both are in their fifties and, having been single for years, met by chance at a rowing club in Twickenham. “Our maritime hobbies brought us together,” says Matt, happily. He describes his years visiting copious watering holes hoping to find a partner as “like wading through treacle”.

Brian agrees that as a ‘mature’ gay man the scene can be very alienating even if it’s not trying to be: “I’m sure some older guys enjoy going out on the scene and having a fun time, especially with friends, but the chances of meeting a like-minded soul who is going to change your life are very small.”

The fact that Matt and Brian met first as friends at the rowing club and later developed a relationship is an example of how a mutual passion for a sport or interest of any kind can lead to connections, socially and romantically.

Where to meet potential partners

Max advocates the plethora of gay social meeting sites, such as the Gay Social Network, which covers a wealth of subjects within a 25-mile radius of London, be it a love for Real Ale or gay professionals’ networking events.

“Not that you need to join a gay organisation,” he says. “Just pick a hobby, something you fancy, be it tennis or, like Matt and Brian, messing about on the river.”

Reflecting a wider slice of Britain are websites such as Out Everywhere, where members organise a broad range of events for gay people up and down the country, from days at the races to paintballing, ice skating and nights in bars.

In many ways, gay people now in their forties and fifties can prove to be more active and adventurous than their younger counterparts.

Where once upon a time gay people were limited to socialising on a scene with a sell-by date attached to the invite, the internet – outside of the sleazier hook-up sites – now offers a portal into social environments appealing to everyone, whatever their age.

As for Thomas, initially apprehensive about getting out there again, he has been enjoying the company of fellow Secret Cinema fans in his native Yorkshire and is looking forward to a new era of fun and romantic possibilities.