Gay Men and the Curse of the Peter Pan Syndrome
Gay Men are Great at everything, Except Growing Up
The gay community is great at a lot of things. We are experts at fashion, we are brilliant at design, we are flawless in social networking, and we are professionals when it comes to throwing a party. As a community we thrive under pressure. As a whole we have beaten the odds with almost everything thrown our way. But one thing I have realized in my social note taking is that we are absolutely horrible when it comes to growing up.
Since the beginning of my social existence a large portion of my friends had been older than myself. I had always just assumed that I was mature for my age when in actuality I think most of the gay men I associated with had never mentally passed the age of 25. From boyfriends, to just friends, to acquaintances, to people I would repeatedly bump into at gay bars; a large portion of them were at a dead end when it came to maturing.
Why is it a social norm of ours to be in our late forties and going clubbing and bar hopping multiple times a week? Of the hundreds of grown men I know, why are so few of them actually grown up? Was I doomed to a life of bottle service and boyfriends half my age because I couldn’t settle down and start a family at an appropriate time? Of all the scary turns my life could take, ending up as one of the middle aged party men cruising the night clubs for a one night stand that concluded with me having breakfast alone and hung-over the next morning, was by far one of the worst.
Is it a personal choice each one of us makes or do the majority of us just have no role model to push us in the right direction? As a young gay man whom does not have a single parental figure to aspire to be, I only have the wisdom of the adults around me to sway my decisions. Why are there so few gay men in my life that look at the next generation as someone to mentor and coach rather than a new addition to their dating pool?
Are Gay Men Cursed with the Peter Pan Syndrome?
It is as if all gay men are terrified to grow up. The abundance of thirty and forty something’s that attend nightclubs persistently and dress like they are going to a college frat party is astounding. Instead of the Botox, barhopping and H&M wardrobes; why as a culture, are the majority of us not having children and planning our futures.
This portion of grown men clinging to the wild nights and serial dating of their twenties seem to live in a secret Neverland. It is this category of men that I have personally diagnosed with Peter Pan Syndrome. These Lost Boys that are terrified of actually looking their age and are always fighting off time instead of aging gracefully and being something helpful for the young gay man to idolize?
Is it because so many gay men were robbed of a gay adolescence that they seem to never leave it once they are able to experience the youth they missed out on?
The sad, thirsty man haunting the shadows of 18 and up clubs is slowly killing our culture. When my generation of gays gets older are we going to think that is the normal thing to do with our nights? Are we all destined to be ghosts of our youth, dramatically hunting down a thrill rather than being man enough and brave enough to go toward the light and move on to actually being an adult?
I think it is time to fight off this trend of a permanent youth. We all need to realize how to act our age and how to play our part in our community. It is time to be a role model for the next group of young men. It is time to tell Peter Pan that you want to go home and as much as it may not be the funniest thing to do, it is time to grow up.
Young, lost, and cynical but still yours,
UPDATE BY DALTON: Peter Pan: Deconstructed
UPDATE: Reader response to this article – Gay Boys and the Curse of the Dorian Gray Syndrome
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