Gay, Black and Aging

I turned 26 last Tuesday. It was an uneventful birthday. In fact, I had forgotten that my birthday was this week until a friend reminded me a few hours before the clock hit midnight. Twenty-six just seems like an odd age to me. This year I'm much more compelled to measure my life based on the year -- such as, doing a review of my life during 2014 -- vs. measuring life based on my age. I look forward to doing that.

The day after I turned 26, I had a dream. I was looking at myself in my bedroom mirror and I could see the 40-year-old me forming. I assumed 40 because that's what it felt like. My dimples were settled, my hairline receded, my face kissed with the same cocoa butter I always use; my hair was thinner, and my posture had shifted a bit. I woke up disappointed. I much rather have had a dream about who I was at 40 versus what I looked like, something I hardly care about. Yet and still, there was nothing surreal about the 40-year-old man I saw in the mirror, because I think about him all the time. Mostly because I'm impatient about the man I'm becoming.

The majority of queer/gay/bi men I know are emphatic about not aging. My assumption is that this has a lot to do with the "symptoms" that most perceive comes with being an aging, Black gay man -- the loneliness, isolation, invisibility, and stigmatization, for example. They fear becoming irrelevant and forgotten. I get that. That's an emotionally traumatizing thing to think about, especially when you critically examine how many of us age alone.

For me, getting older has always been a welcomed process -- a pattern that allows me to gauge how I'm evolving, but at the same time it's a process that allows me to mature emotionally, psychologically, and professionally. It's impossible for some people to acknowledge that they're much wiser today than they were yesterday while they're staring at the wrinkles on their face and examining the creases of their skin. I once had an older man (who looked to be in his sixties) tell me "a diva doesn't tell her age." Ok, girl, well I hope you're not imparting this nugget of stupidity on any of our youth, because a fear of aging can be communally pathological.

My offering to Black queer/gay/bi men is to appreciate who you're becoming in juxtaposition to who you once were. And if you're not satisfied with the sort of person you're becoming, be honest with yourself about why, and then go on about the business of trying to become a better version of yourself. You don't want to be seated at a bar, clearly unsatisfied with your age, telling a twenty-something-year-old man in need of guidance that "a diva doesn't tell her age."

As for me, when I think about my future, I get excited about the tremendous Black gay and bisexual men I'll be aging alongside. I look forward to kicking back with them, some of us single, a few of us still THOTing, the rest of us married, maybe with a few kids on the side, drinking chardonnay on the stoop of my Brooklyn brownstone, recalling our youth and how fortunate we were to have gotten out of it alive.