About one in 15 Britons has changed their sexual orientation in the past six years, according to a new report.
And people over 65, especially women, are among the groups most likely to change their sexuality, researchers found.
Lancaster University authors claimed the data ? from an analysis involving nearly 23,000 people ? dispels the assumption that sexual “fluidity” is largely confined to Gen Z and millennials.
In all age groups, women, non-white persons and the lower educated were more likely to change orientation.
This can be from heterosexual to non-sexual, or vice versa.
A study led by Lancaster University found that one in 15 Britons (around 7 per cent) changed sexual orientation over six years, based on data from 23,000 people, although the rates are particularly high among young people, over-65s and women in general
The academics also included a participant changing his “I’d rather not say” answer to one revealing his sexuality, and vice versa, as one of these sexual shifts.
This study is based on data from Britons who were surveyed once between 2011 and 2013 and between 2017 and 2019.
On both occasions, participants were asked about their sexual identity.
Answers included: heterosexual, gay or lesbian, bisexual, other, or I’d rather not say.
Younger people, ages 16 to 24, had the highest levels of fluidity, with a 7.9 percent change over the course of the study.
However, the over-65s were not far behind (7.4 percent).
These rates compared to an average of between 5 and 6.2 percent in the other age groups.
Across the whole group, the rate was 6.6 per cent – the equivalent of about one in 15 people in the UK.
The reasons why people changed their sexual orientation were not recorded.
At the start of the survey, the vast majority of participants, 94.2 percent, reported being heterosexual, 1.3 percent gay or lesbian, 1.1 percent bisexual, 0.8 percent other, and 2.6 percent preferred to say nothing to say.
Despite there being a 6.6 percent overall shift in sexual orientation among participants, the actual breakdown of sexuality by type remained largely the same six years later.
Put another way, the percentage of people who became heterosexual over the course of the study was broadly equivalent to the percentage of people who no longer identified as heterosexual.
Lead author Professor Yang Hu, an expert in global sociology, said the rate, particularly in older people, was driven in part by throwing out “I’d rather not say” as an answer.
He added: ‘The relatively high mobility among the elderly is largely due to their increased likelihood of adopting a heterosexual identity and their reluctance to disclose their sexual identity.’
‘Our research establishes the scale and patterns of sexual identity mobility in the UK.
‘It does not address the complex reasons for mobility.
“However, our analysis does show that changes in individuals’ sexual identification are closely related to changes in their partnership status and partner’s gender.”
Professor Nicole Denier, a sociology expert from the University of Alberta and co-author of the study, told the 11 Jun 2023 12Guardian it was particularly interesting to find that sexual fluidity did not stabilize as people got older.
“That assumption has spawned a lot of research focusing on adolescence as a critical stage of sexual identity development,” she said.
“But our findings suggest that changes in sexual identity are an equally valuable research topic in the elderly and even throughout life.”
Other findings in the study included that women were significantly more likely than men to change their sexual orientation.
Overall, 6.3 percent of women changed their sexual identity over the course of the study, compared to just 5.7 percent of men.
Sexual fluidity was also slightly more than three times more likely in non-white participants (15.5 percent) compared to people of white background (5 percent).
Publish their findings in the journal 11 Jun 2023 12demographics, the authors said it’s unclear why sexual fluidity appeared to be higher in some groups than others.
But Professor Hu added that when it comes to men and women, the former may be under greater societal pressure not to be honest about their sexual identities.
“Existing theories suggest that rigid norms around ‘masculinity’ may mean that men are less flexible and fluid in their sexual expressions of identity,” he said.
Professor Hu added that their research had real implications for policymakers seeking to support sexual minorities.
He said that since their research showed that sexual identity can change over time, the populations who need to support such measures must also show adaptability.
“Our findings show that the sexual minority population is not static and that identities and partnership practices can change over the course of people’s lives,” he said.
Because the composition of the sexual minority population can change, policymakers must adapt to the changing characteristics and needs of the population.
11 Jun 2023 12Nearly 7% of Brits have changed sexual orientation in last 6 years, report claims