Nobody Loves You When You're Old and Gay

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The illusions of youth?


“Older guys? Forget it,” Jamey, a 24-year-old movie store manager in Detroit, told Bergling. “I get bored out of my skull if one of them walks up to me and tries to start a conversation, even if he isn’t hitting on me, which he probably is.”

Probably not an illusion. I assume most older people would welcome, think about being able to have sex with a younger partner. And the majority of boys and girls just shudder at the idea. I can't project from my own experience. When I was young I liked younger and am probably lucky that I didn't find myself in prison. I grew out of it. Sure, there's a pang sometimes when I see a young lovely. Knowing that even if I were devastatingly handsome the mere fact of chronology would keep him out of my reach. Really I'm mostly happy to be able to look. Beauty is beauty: flowers, music, fragrances, good English prose.

The preference for youth is probably rooted in out evolutionary past as much as anything else. Breeders we may not be but as Richard Dawkins might say: we are the product of our ancestors. You can't disassociate youth from vitality and a vital mate was the one most likely to produce offspring.

It is easy to blame it all on pop culture. A sinister force as it were beaming the ephemera of the moment into our brains. If you can't setup your own force field then you are helplessly in the grip of many things. Blaming your cultural environment is just away of escaping responsibility.

“All those younger guys … think older guys like me just want to get them all into bed,” Rick, a 45-year-old software consultant in Mansfield, Ohio, told Bergling online. “Please. What an utter waste of time would that be? They could never keep up, and good lord, what the hell would we even talk about?”

That could be sour grapes. But if you want more than a few hours diversion it is perhaps more dead on that many younger people can realize. Call it seasoning or texture but there are qualities that the passage of time - in and only in a worthwhile person - that can deepen and become richer.

Sometimes when a customer in my used bookshop tries to engage me in conversation I try to slip loose. If they are older I assume they are just the captives of accumulated prejudices. Younger folks I feel should come back and talk about it a few years in the future. By which time they'll probably be bound in the shell of their own prejudices. But it is kinder to think someone naïve than an old fool.

Afterthought: this was poorly put. I've had plenty of good conversations with people younger than myself in the shop. Sometimes I've helped them find comics they'll like. Or they've pointed out new music to me. And online most everyone I've exchanged words with has been younger, often significantly. That isn't like just hanging out where we'd probably bore each other silly. Myself, I'd bore most people silly. I'm not putting myself down. I don't have much to say with casual audience appeal.

At the same time, more than half of the respondents felt unappreciated by gay people under age 30, he says.

Um, how should they 'appreciate' us (me?)? They have bars to go dancing at and a whole series of love affairs to tear themselves apart over. I'm not looking to be appreciated. Mostly all I've wanted for the human race to do is shut up and step aside.

... and 42 percent said that gay social services aren’t doing enough for people over 60 ...

That sounds sad. Though I'm not sure what services they are talking about. If older HIV+ men are being neglected due to their age then it is evil. Maybe I'm unimaginative but what other specifically gay social services are they looking for.

The men who were less fearful about aging were those who don’t want or expect a relationship, Hostetler says.

There we have it. Mostly because I was a young gay man who liked younger gay guys I often thought that when I hit thirty I'd be dead, maybe should make myself dead. What was on my silly mind? Partly sex seemed far more important than it does now (not that sex has become a minor matter, trust me). Poor young Richard desperately wanted to be In Love; he was in love with Love.

As much as I love to be in love I came to realize that I'm too quirky for most people to regard romantically. Maybe for a day or a week but I'm too alive to my inner life and that always seemed to quickly dim my charms.

When I realized I might never live my monogamous dream I made peace with my biological and erotic decay. Not that I stopped trying to find romantic fulfillment. Though the last few days have suggested maybe I'd have been a smarter man if I had.

I'm not sure if the ageist divide between younger and older gay men is much more than the usual divide between generations. You grow up listening to different music. Your quotidian priorities aren't the same.

Younger queers may feel that you'd like to get into their pants (and maybe you would, if only in an absentminded way). Older queer men may feel bored by youth's chatter about celebrities he's barely heard of. So what.

In recent years I've encountered heterosexual couples that've formed romantic attachments sometime around the time they started collecting social security. If straight people can do it gay people can as well.

If some pretty twink is rude to you, don't fret. Time and biochemistry will get him. You may not be around to see his thinning hair, false teeth, his forlorn glances at the youths he used to be like.

Or maybe he'll wise up. No reason to begrudge his current intolerance. You yourself was probably once a foolish young thing.

Afterthought: Some of that sounds meaner than I'd intended. I'm hoping that our increasing freedom will leave queer folk more able to cope with aging. I suspect much of the deep fear that gay men have felt about growing older stems from having once associated mostly in bars where the agenda was finding someone to sleep with. I was trying to form an opinion if some of the queer phobia of aging has been rooted in being attracted to the same sex. Projecting our own youthful lack of interest in older sex partners back into our future. An interesting notion maybe but I don't feel any real truth to it. By all reports women feel more pressure to maintain a smooth surface. Early generations of gay men often placed themselves in varying degrees in a feminine social space. Probably unable otherwise to define their attraction to men. Perhaps this social self-definition ramified into a similar feeling of being unattractive if not youthful. Beats me.

Pity I didn't think of any of this the other day when I wrote: Gay & middle age crazy?

Southern Voice: Older gay men battle fears of isolation, invisibility

Discovered via: Out & Gray

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I still remembered the day I finally found out your age (You may have mentioned it on an entry), and I was like “dude, where did I get the impression you were much older?!” Are younger people rude to older guys? I would think it would probably be the ones who have good looks and contantly get hit on that would possess that hardened personality - “(sigh) okay what now? tell me something i haven’t heard already.” Theoretically -and this has not been proven - I would think a homely looking boy would not affect an attitude, because getting attention would be so new and thrilling, it’d be returned.

I feel sometimes that the death of the conversation is the biggest turn-off, not age, looks or anything else. I was at a party a week ago, and I cringe whenever “so what do you do for a living?” rises. Originality would stun me more than good looks. If a man siddled up to me and whispered, “I’m not wearing a bra either.” Now how fun would that be?

I hang out with a genetic girl whom I used to work with. I think she’s like in her early twenties. I used to think I couldn’t do it. And while we do do girltalk, I also try to look after her emotional well-being like I would any of my friends. It’s not hard to bridge the gap there. And I have been able to talk to 16 year old girls on lj. I know innately they understand what I am saying, even if they don’t respond. I just utterly refuse to dumb down or desperately attempt to be hip.

In person, if anyone ever greeted me with “hoz it hanging dawg?” I’d just say, “I’m fine, how are you.” It sets them back a little at first, but in the end, I think there’s an appreciation the new generation has for what I’m saying: “Yeah, the gap is definitely there, and I’m not hiding it, but so what?”

Rhythm is another gap. The timing and attention span of the younger generation is higher-paced and all over the place. There’s endless single-line lj entries of “I’m bored” posted everyday. There’s constant distraction of cell phones, passing visual triggers, passing thoughts that I notice in younger people. I personally don’t remember being that way at that age. But then my life was as solitary then as it is now.

Well I did mention my birthday and age on Live Journal when the day arrived last year. No such bravery this year.

I started to indulge in a bit of gay sexism by saying that guys who crossdress are less intolerant of a man’s age. Don’t know where that mad pseudo-insight came from (well, probably a sign of how weary after I am after a look day at work). It is just your essential humanness coming through.

Lots of uninteresting looking youths think themselves much better looking than they are, even the homely boys. And some of the older gay men with afflicted sexuality I used to know cared more about youth than beauty. And the homely lads are more likely hoping they can land the neighborhood Johnny Depp than evaluating their own qualities objectively.

I can’t imagine myself saying anything that funny at a party. Then again I can’t imagine myself at a party.

Some of what you are talking about is more of a cultural than age gap. Back when it was perfectly normal for people, some of my best friends to go “What’s happening dude!” I never could answer in the same spirit. I wasn’t the kind of eighteen year-old who used the word dude.

Sounds like you are doing at least a bit of mentoring with your young female friend. That is pretty distant from friendship or romance.

I think youth is often made up of fragmented experiences. It is the haste of the stage. Like you I wasn’t like that. I enjoy my solitary nature but do wish I had someone to share it with.

When I got to the part where you quoted Richard Dawkins, I thought you wrote Richard Dawson. I tried contorting my brain to figure out how a drunken,expatriate, grandmother kissing game show host could also be a cultural anthropologist. Dementia can make aging more entertaining.

First time I saw one of the city’s Deaf Child warning signs I thought it said Dead Child - seemed mighty weird. I mistread things all the time and get lots of laugh out of it.

I’d like to comment on your article “Nobody Loves You When You’re Old and Gay.” It’s a piece of trash and obviously written by some young punk who doesn’t have a CLUE what goes on with older gay males. How many older gay males did you interview for your article? None is my guess. I am a 56 y/o white male who receives responses to his online personal from 18 year olds wanting to begin a relationship! The majority of my responses are from guys 22 to 35! There is an entire cross-section of the gay community who are strictly attracted to older gay males and older gay males ONLY! I have hundreds and hundreds of responses to prove it. So do us all a favor and stop printing such ridiculous articles. The truth is more like “Everybody Loves You When You’re Old and Gay,” judging from MY experiences.

I’m quite aware of so-called older men ‘admirers’ having been approached by young guys when I had profiles posted online when I was in my mid-forties. And indeed have been living for the last four years with someone nineteen years younger than myself.

So what? There’s a good deal more to social interaction than online profiles. Nor does a tiny specialized population reflect the status of gay men in general.

You sound like someone who is trying to validate his life by the quantity of responses he’s received to his personal ads. Seems like a rather narrow definition of a life.

Richard, in response to your post…you talk about the status of “gay men in general.” The fact is, when it comes to gay men you CAN NOT GENERALIZE. Each of us is SO different in our likes and dislikes when it comes to men. Just as heterosexual men do not find ALL women attractive, not ALL gay men are attracted to the same type of guy, thus the old saying “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Some gay men like hairy men, some like smooth; some like younger, some prefer older; some like thin, others like chubbs; some like blondes, others prefer brunettes or S&P; some are into leather, chains and S&M, others are not; some like Asians or blacks, others prefer their own race…I could go on and on, the categories are endless, so PLEASE stop trying to generalize us and lump us all into ONE CATEGORY! And by the way, I am happy with my online personals and the social interaction they are the catalyst of. Through them I’ve met hundreds of great guys. However, as I prefer QUALITY over quantity, your sly remark about “trying to validate my life by the number of responses I receive” was really hitting below the belt and uncalled for. I’m looking for a LIFE PARTNER, not a night of sex with a stranger, so to me the NUMBER of responses is of far less importance than the QUALITY of responses. The text of my ads is specifically written to eliminate 99% of the men who read them, so it’s doubtful my goal is to “try to validate my life by the number of responses I receive.” What a stupid comment for you to make about someone you don’t know! I find online personals a much more worthwhile pursuit than hanging out in dirty disgusting bars full of disease-ridden circuit boys. My guess is your idea of “social interaction” is picking up STDs from promiscuous young sluts, lounge lizards, and party boys in dark, smokey gay bars and tacky dance clubs. Well sorry Richard, not ALL of us gay men are out looking for their next sexual conquest or experience. Some of us are more interested in building a serious and meaningful relationship and finding a decent, honest, half-way good looking human being with whom we can spend the rest of our lives with. You’re delusional if you think you’ll find that caliber of a man amongst the low-lifes in the junkyard of a gay bar.

I was eighteen and a half and my first time was with a 48 year old man who was masculine with the exception of long(for a man) fingernails. I made love to a succession of older men and found them to be much better than the mostly immature dudes my own age. My best oral was a gum-job from a masculine 64 year old who was also a great j/o partner (He bit or clipped his nails to the nubs) and my best anal action was in men almost twice my age back when I was in my early twenties.

As far as I care masculinity trumps youth any time. As a half-century old man I am attracted to men my own age up to about 60.

i am a gay man in the middle of a mid life crisis. i use to be young and attractive and that went away about 12 years ago. it is harder as you get older, if indeed, at one time your were semi attractive.

however, at the age of 48, and having lost so many dear friends to aids, i am just fucking thrilled to be alive.

i try to make an ass out of myself at least once a day in memory of them.

the upside to getting older is that you don’t have to worry about looking young…especially when you are married.

jack e. jett

I’m in the odd position of having mostly straight friends. I’ve lost few to AIDS but among those few are two of the most important lovers I had.

Monogamy is wonderful when it works. Sadly that is rarely.

I just advertise I like to service with no recipocaion expected. I tell them I have a toothless mouth to suck them. A lot of younsters like to be service by a toothless sucker. As for my anus, I give myself an enema if some one wats to penetrate me. I may be old but y mind is still on a mans crotch. Rich

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