Sexuality: from stigma, stereotypes and secrecy to coming out, communication and choice Academic Article uri icon


  • Ageism and sexism have been remarkably successful in portraying sexuality as the preserve of young people and stereotyping older people as asexual. Older people have colluded in the stereotype by passing as asexual and generally keeping secret their ongoing interest in, or expression of, sexuality. The labelling as 'deviant' and associated stigma experienced by people who dare to breach societal stereotypes are recognized as tools used by powerful vested interests to maintain and manage the norms and values of society. Despite the sanctions, people do find ways of resisting, and over time norms and values change. This paper notes the centrality of sexuality to identity and argues that nursing is pivotally placed to recognize and value the older person's sexuality and support older people to 'come out' and re-claim the sexuality of their choice. It provides a provocative vision of how care and attitudes might look in 2025.

publication date

  • March 2007