The power of intimacy By Khakan Qureshi I’ve just turned 53 and asked to write about sexual health and wellbeing. Where do I start? Who wants to hear about the sex life of a 50-something when the gay community is so full of images of lithe, fit, muscular white men. No one wants to see or read about a middle aged, brown, gay man. I’m not in the best of shapes. I don’t have a six-pack. I don’t spend hours at the gym in a quest to have a toned, supple body, fit for posing, manipulating into different sexual positions, preened for Instagram or TikTok. My once thick, dark wavy hair has turned salt and pepper and I look like a balding badger. My skin is smooth and callous free, though I note a few scars and a varicose vein searing down my left leg. Some might call me a bear or an Otter. Either way, I am hirsute and I see a few specks of grey hair, here and there. But I don’t care. For I have my love to keep me warm. Yes, I have a long term partner and we will soon be celebrating 31 years of our monogamous relationship. When we first started our relationship, we enjoyed sex on a daily basis. After all, I was 22, he was 43. Although I carried the strong burden of religious guilt and thought “Is this haram or halal?” It wasn’t just sex. It was making love. As we fell deeper for each other, we took things naturally and gradually progressed to a deeper connection. We talked. We got to know each other. We shared passions, interests, and we communicated every day. We talked about life, love, lust and our own yearnings for wanderlust. We learnt about each other and got to the point where we knew what the other was thinking without saying anything. We explored our feelings, the chemistry between us, naturally allowed communication to be one of the main strongholds of our relationship. As the decades moved on, our lovemaking became less frequent, but more steady and wholesome. Life events, the daily stresses of routine and rituals, the dynamics of diabetes which beset the both of us in the last few years, has made me consider our sex life, the way things were, to how they are now. The intimacy we shared was and continues to be, sustainable and more meaningful. I realise that just because we have hidden health conditions, doesn’t mean it has to stop us from having an active sex life. As I grow older, the sex life of yesteryear, the desire to have bedroom antics which emulates a high gloss (or amateur) sex film, is exactly that – a desire, an unrealistic fantasy and unobtainable. I’ve learned that I can love myself whole as much as I love my 73 year old partner. We still touch and explore each other’s bodies, appreciate the contours of growing old gracefully, hold hands in bed, snuggle up whilst we spoon and still find time to love each other in more ways than one. As we are both now Seniors, at both ends of the spectrum, we continue to entwine ourselves mentally, emotionally, physical and sexually. We are still pleasantly surprised at what we can achieve, and smile to ourselves that as mature men, we receive compliments from random strangers who remark at how well we look and dress. I am acutely aware that as I swipe through Tik Tok and Instagram, and can admire the young people who pose and flex as they show off their bulging muscles, who are looking for likes, and shares, it’s the smaller things in life that matter. Though our bodies are ageing with time, in my mind, we are still very much young at heart and in our outlook on life. As a South Asian Gay Man, I know that I don’t need to be in competition with others, that I can still be myself, look after myself in my own ways and know there is someone waiting for me when I come home. Would you like to contribute to LGBT HERO? Email your ideas or proposal to [email protected] and a member of the team will be in touch.