1. Because, like me, if you're gay and in your 50s, you watched virtually all of your male friends and acquaintances die agonizing deaths, often at what should have been the prime of their lives, with little support or compassion from elected leaders, often families, in a war, a holocaust, that didn't mark them as heroes or innocent, only cold dust. And because to die while your friends died around you, daily, memorial services filling up your datebooks like smartphones now fill up cocktail parties, and to be told you deserved it, is hell on earth. And you survived that hell.
2. Because if you lived in a big city in the 80s and the 90s, and you had sex with men (even once), men you loved, men you wanted to grow old with, your life was a daily game of Russian Roulette. Did that rash mean you got the bullet, or would it be the guy pumping iron next to you? And if it wasn't you, there was always tomorrow...
3. Because "tomorrow" was a dream for them. An impossible dream.
4. Because older gay men are as attractive as all get-out. You are the last generation of gay death and the first generation of a new gay life, and that experience makes you more beautiful than any bicep bulge or flat stomach. And should anyone call you a "tired old queen" or "past his prime" or, in the immortal words of Jethro Tull, "too old to rock and roll," their ignorant words should only make you grateful you know otherwise. Because, in the immortal words of Helen Reddy, "It's wisdom borne of pain." And because if they don't get those references, they also might not get "you're gonna make it after all." And she did, and so did you.
5. Because you can still work on getting all those younger references that too often sail right past you. Because, Yeezus Christ, why not?
6. Because your marriages are now legal in 50 states, and your black President approves.
7. Because 50 is the new black, and that makes you prime beef. A million Daddy Chasers and Daddy sites and DILF lovers, and the continued appeal of men like Tom Ford and Silver Fox Anderson Cooper, show that millennials are attracted to role models of a certain age. And because "Silver Fox Gray" is the trendy new hair color for men of an uncertain age.
8. Because you were introduced to sex at a time when your penis was considered a murderer, and now live in a time when it's a killer cock shot introduction.
9. Because Will & Grace is passé, Modern Family is "over," Neil Patrick Harris is ubiquitous, Andy Cohen is overexposed, Brokeback Mountain is overrated, and gay, naked hunks on TV is ho-hum. And because, even if such cynicism is unwarranted, your friends who died never had the opportunity to join a once-unimaginable discussion.
10. Because if you're mad those former gay hotspots have become integrated, you're forgetting that integration is what you fought for in the first place.
11. Because ribbons were beautiful but life is the dream. And that dream is becoming reality.
12. Because if you have kids, and they are gay males, they won't have to learn about sex by sneaking peeks at "Playgirl" at the local drugstore, like you did. And if your kids are heterosexual, think of the tolerance they will bring to the world. And because you can now have kids.
13. Because gay men much older than you will tell you, rightfully, that fretting about getting older is a waste of time. And because good luck finding many gay men much older than you.
14. Because you're old enough to remember Cyndi Lauper's debut album, disco and driving home drunk from parties. And because you're young enough to enjoy Kinky Boots on Broadway, Panic! At the Disco, and know how stupid it is to drive home drunk from anywhere.
15. Because Silence = Death was not a fad, and your political representation, your tweets, your "relationship status," your commercials, your honeymoons in Vegas, your Disney Days, your dating and hookup sites, your TV channels, your pop stars, your newscasters, your suburban homes and your publishing world are proof that you're loud and alive.
16. Because a middle-age HIV-positive man told me recently that he had been scarred with AIDS, looked like death, had no hope, and that now, 20 years later, he is undetectable, healthy and hunky, and is "re-writing history." He is, and so are you.
17. Because, yeah, back pain sucks, and so do those wrinkles and love handles and worrying about prostate cancer and heart trouble and cholesterol and losing your hair and dying alone and finances and sexual dysfunction and never writing the Great American Novel. And because all of that is a billion times better than going to the doctor and only fearing that one four-letter word. And because you can still finish that book.
18. Because "We're Here, We're Queer, Get Used to It," was prophetic poetry, not Pollyanna posturing.
19. Because if you could write a letter to one of those friends who died of AIDS-related complications, and said you were going through a midlife crisis, how do you think he'd respond? Love every minute of this, for him, for them, for us.