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.
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.
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
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