The glory days of being new and fresh to the gay world has faded, and suddenly we are relocated to the back of the bar with all the other old farts in the house. When did this happen? With no warning, we became the very person that we had once poked fun of.
What happens when we get old in the gay community?
In a time where youth is worshiped, it is difficult to find your place when people look at you and see a number – not a face, not a soul, just a number – after time, it defines you. You don’t feel old, but the signs are there. Our sight starts to go, our muscles start to twitch, our hearing gets worse – all the while, the bright light of death gets closer and your “Friends” become the “Golden Girls.”
Ageism in the gay community is an issue. Twenty years ago, when we were the hot young newbies celebrating the vitality of youth, we thought it would never end. When it does, it’s hard to believe. People make judgments. We know they do, because we’ve done it. As we mocked the oldies in the bar while they watched the young boys dancing in the club, it never occurred to us that one day, it would happen to us. Now that we’re men of a certain age, does it mean we can’t go to bars anymore?
Being stuck in a state of mourning for your past is never going to move you forward. People will always be younger than you – it’s a fact. This generation didn’t experienced the discrimination in the 70s, they didn’t witness their friends die of AIDS, and most importantly, they didn’t experience Grace Jones – that’s one point for us.
Young people who are just coming out have a sense of freedom. All the built up tension of suppression explodes into an independence they didn’t think possible. We know the feeling, because we were there once upon a time. I’ve seen many men fall into a depression because they wanted it back – freedom, vitality, not giving a damn.
Ageism is found in all ages, but the truth is, it’s mostly from the younger boys. On the opposite side, there is wisdom. We know better. But because we know their youth isn’t going to last long, it’s easy to build resentment, which will lead to a downward spiral.
Why don’t we talk about it?
Somehow it seems like a taboo topic, yet it is affecting our community by the thousands. People feel lost and unwanted by their piers – this should never happen. Open up the discussion. Look! Our friends are aging with us too, right? Chances are, they’re going through the same issues. Be there for each other.
By embracing our age, we welcome the idea of others doing it too. Happiness is a choice – and as we leave our youth behind, we have to welcome what is ahead. Embrace the fact that we are still here – and we ain’t going nowhere! If your friends are going to be the Golden Girls, you might as well make it worthwhile.
I call dibs on Dorothy.