1.) Because I’m way too old to be sexually active. It’s not uncommon to get a Scruff message from a stranger along the lines of “What are you, like 60? Jesus.” That’s the one I received a few days back. I didn’t engage, but if I were 60 I don’t think being on Grindr or Scruff or any other hookup app would be a bad thing. On the contrary, being sexually active at any age is a sign of health and spirit and enjoying our sex-drenched fingertip world. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. If you do have a problem with people older than you being sexual, you’re looking at your own repressed future.
2.) Because every conversation with men my age should center around the time when we were younger, and better. Many men my age talk incessantly about younger times, forgetting that we’re still alive and kicking and, hopefully, in good health. Some do it to such excess that I avoid spending time with them—I’m over college and “boys” and I’ve got TMC if I want to indulge in the Golden Days. I’m the biggest sentimentalist alive, but I wake up each morning wanting to live in the moment and enjoy every minute of what the past has presented. It’s not always easy, and growing older has its hardships. But I’m still living “In my day,” and I hope that day stays as bright and long as a June summer night.
3.) Because I’m too old to have new ideas. Never mind getting turned down for a writing job I initially created (they gave it to an underwear model who doesn’t write), I’ve learned that, in gay world, my creativity should have ended about the time many of my friends’ lives did. I’m under-represented in gay-themed films and TV shows, and print publications don’t seem to know that I exist. If I submit an article idea about life over 50, it better be tragic, and short, because we’re not marketable. Unless we’re tragic, and short-lived.
4.) Because I need a chemical boost to my sex life, a fat freeze, Botox, steroids, and everything else science offers to make me young again. I’ve not indulged in any of the above, and I don’t begrudge anyone who does. But go to an age-appropriate dinner party and admit that and you’ll find you’re in a new minority. Here’s the natural rub: I have a great sex life, I like my non-enhanced muscles, and I like the lines on my face. Sacri-ageous, right? We’re taught all of our lives to eat healthy, exercise, and not to jump in front of traffic so we can live long happy lives. Only to find that, once we’re over 50, we should be ashamed of those achievements and Benjamin Button our exterior. Sure, and I’ve got a portrait in the attic I’d like to sell you.
5.) Because the more memories I have the less valuable I am. “That’s way before my time” is a common, friendly joke, and say it to me and I laugh. But when it’s stated as a derogatory comment, it’s actually offensive. If someone doesn’t know about Boy George coming out on TV or Truth or Dare’s gay kiss or the AIDS quilt, then scoffs it off as “an age thing,” they are literally saying that ignorance is preferable to knowledge. There’s nothing I love more then when young gay men ask me about LGBT life in the 80s, and I’m thrilled I can tell them about the ups and downs. My own favorite sentimental gay-old story? Having a relative come out to me in his 80s, and then tell me about closeted life as a marine in World War II. Hint: It wasn’t easy. He died after passing on a treasure trove of gay history. I hope that my own past can someday influence someone’s present.
6.) Because I’m not married and am thus a “tired old queen who missed the boat” (Yes, that quote made it to my inbox not so long ago). Who would have thought the notion of marriage being the measure of true happiness would become a gay norm? I love the idea of a legal commitment and think it would be wonderful if I found the right man and took that step. But I’m not living my life in waiting, and I’m not going to settle to feel more accepted or to have an automatic date on Friday nights. Since the end of DOMA, I’ve also witnessed a few hurry-up marriages that ended in quick, ugly divorces. I also urge men to be more careful when they make generalizations about older men not being lucky enough to find their soul mate. Maybe they did, and maybe they couldn’t get married because it wasn’t legal or there was too much hatred from the outside or the love of their life died. Once again, that’s a memory we need to keep in the present tense. Same-sex marriage is a right, not a toy. Treat it like any fragile object—with careful hands.
7.) Because the best years of my life are over. As many people have said, “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” They’re correct, and the more we age the more we have to fear, especially in regards to physical decline. FYI, losing your hair sucks! But life’s fulfillment is not linear, and youth, like the middle ages, can be terrifying or wonderful, full of despair or filled with joy. I wouldn’t tell my 20-something Leukemia survivor friend that his best days are over, and he should punch anyone in the face who does. The more we perpetuate the myth that happiness has an expiration date, or a starting date, the more we perpetuate the notion that, if your youth sucked, you didn’t just miss the marriage boat, you missed the “life boat.” Grab on now and enjoy the ride.