Growing Old Disgracefully

March 23, 2012 in General

Turning 50 seems to have changed my online audience in a way I hadn’t imagined.

Suddenly I find 20 year-olds sending me lust-filled messages online – I guess I can now officially be put in the “Daddy” category. And I also get guys in their 60s getting in touch – I suppose I seem close enough in age that they feel more comfortable approaching me than they do a 30 year-old.

It’s been interesting, and some fun as well, and even though their skin is lovely at that age, 20 is just too young for me, it feels creepy somehow. 25 and up I can cope with. And I’ve had some wonderful hot times with men in their 60s too.

Gay men and age though – we don’t deal with it that well I reckon.


We talk about “the gay community” a lot, but one thing about successful communities is they have links over generations, the older members pass down their experiences and knowledge to the younger ones, and we don’t seem very good at that, we’re not good at giving time, space and respect to older gay men, and that really weakens us as a community I reckon.

I remember when I was first out and about in my late teens, and guys in their 20s seemed so mature and onto it. Shit – some of them had even been to Sydney! You have no idea how exotic that seemed to me when I was 17. I think I’ve always been attracted to guys around their mid-30s, and that’s continued over my life. At first I was attracted to guys older than me, now I’m attracted to guys younger than me, but they’re still the same age – it’s me that’s changed.

There are times when flicking through an online profile I see that “No old guys!” line, or “No-one over 45″ and it hurts a bit. Being rejected, being eliminated from consideration really, just because of age seems nasty to me. But the online world is a harsh one.

There’s such pressure out there in society in general to stay young and fabulous, and it’s hugely amplified in homoland. You don’t see many ads for bars and clubs, still our main social spaces,  featuring older men. I was chatting to a visiting American the other night at the Urge Leather Night, he had a good body, white hair and a white beard,  and I asked him if he always travelled with his leathers.

“Oh yes” he said “Otherwise I’m invisible, I’m 62, I’m too old for most, but in leather I still get attention and to talk to guys and break through the age barrier.”

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I saw his point. Age, authority and leather all have some interesting crossovers.

Even though so many older gay men did so much to get us where we are, the mainstream gay world doesn’t value them, purely because of their age and looks. They are discarded, ignored, seen as embarrassing if they go out to a bar or a club. And that’s a shame, because one day, unless you get hit by a bus, it’s highly likely you’ll be old, wrinkly and with more hair coming out of your ears than on your head. But we’re not that great at putting ourselves in others’ shoes.

Maybe it’s the population issue again – NZ is so small to start with, and so many guys have moved overseas – the gay population is tiny really, so perhaps we’re less diverse in our outlooks.

Another friend who is younger than me, in his early 40s, a bear,  just came back from SF and said how he was amazed to get so much attention there from younger guys, something he doesn’t get so here. The whole “Bear” thing is much bigger and more popular overseas, and it does seem to offer more opportunities for a wide variety of types – let’s face it – as wonderful as this country is in many ways, it’s quite provincial and uptight too, even in the gay world.

It’s not just about fucking either, it’s about love too. It’s not unusual to hear people making snide, nasty remarks about couples who have a big age gap, as though there is some expectation that if you’re 25 there is something wrong with you if your lover is 55, it’s the same sort of double-standard we see in the straight world. An older man can have a young girlfriend and people are able to believe they really love each other, but if it’s an older woman with a younger man, people often show their nasty side.

I don’t understand why there is that need to judge someone or their choice of a partner because of age. Love is love, and you can never tell when it’s going to strike but some guys react as though a big age difference is something obscene. I know couples where there is between 20 and 30 years age difference, and they seem just the same as other couples I know – they laugh, they bitch, they fight, they have fun, they pay the bills, they just get on with life and they love each other. I don’t see the issue.

One thing I do know – I’m not getting any younger – and I’m glad I’ve found a few new fans as I mature.