Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ageism In The Gay Community

I was recently responding to a friend's blog about some of the problems within the gay community, which inspired me to write this blog.

The truth is, Ageism is extremely prominent within the gay community. If you are an older man who makes a habit of going to gay bars and clubs, you are thought of as "creepy" by the younger gay crowd. What a shame.

I have personally been to clubs where someone who is a bit older was in attendance, and I was shocked by how often I had overheard people saying things like "look at that old guy over there, I hope he doesn't talk to me". How rude and snobbish can you be?

It's a fact that within the gay community there is too much emphasis on superficial matters. This obviously plays a part in the rampant ageism. 

I admit there are some creepy older guys on the prowl for hookups out there, but they're no different than the younger gay sluts who are on the prowl as well. It's just that if you're older or considered "ugly", you are creepy. If you are younger and considered attractive, you can engage in this same behavior, and not be considered creepy. Does this sound logical?

Despite that category (hookup prowlers), there are plenty of older gay men who are simply lonely and looking for love just as we young guys are. Why should they be limited to someone their own age, and why should there be limitations upon where they can and cannot go to socialize or look for love? Love crosses all spectrums. A lot of older gay men might be "new" and have finally come out of the closet and are just looking for love and companionship and don't know where to start other than going to a club and talking to the majority of who is there: younger gay guys. The younger guys can be extremely judemental toward older men who are simply looking for the same things we are.

I've personally spoken with a very nice 62 year old gentleman while at a club. He enjoys going to clubs, he's very "with it" when it comes to popular culture, and enjoys the music and atmosphere of a club. He is recently divorced and out of the closet. All he is looking for some friends and potentially a boyfriend. He said whenever he goes out, he feels depressed about the fact that no one approaches him, and often if he approaches someone to make conversation, they don't seem to want to engage in it because of his age. There is nothing creepy about this man, he is simply a lonely guy in need of companionship. Yet younger gays think that possessing a sense of youthful style, hot bodies, and an upper hand on what's in and what isn't makes them too good even just for a friendship with an older man.

There are a lot of young gay guys who are into older guys, "daddies", if you will. These guys look for older guys to date, and it's generally not considered a problem. But whenever an older guy looks for younger guys, it's suddenly "creepy" and "wrong". Age is simply a number. If there is attraction, and mutual interest, why should it matter if a 20 year old is with a 48 year old (or older)?

It saddens me that ageism is still incredibly acceptable in society. I have more to say regarding this subject, but I'll save that for another time. 


Anonymous said...

I agree with you in principle, however I think it goes both ways. So much is in the approach, and a lot of older guys came up when the clubs were the main place to get laid. It's not that way anymore, and most of the guys who go out are there just to dance with their friends. I've seen some of these older guys who just act like the wolf that ate little red riding hood. They habitually chase after guys less than half their age, and then get pissed off when their lust isn't returned. I'm not talking about every "older" guy out there, but the ones who stalk the edge of the dancefloor, mentally undressing every "kid" under 25, they're the face of "mature gay guys". Can you blame some 22yo for avoiding these guys like the plague when so many of them act this way? True it's very much a blanket generalization, but I'd say it's true more times than not.

Xander said...

I agree that lots of older guys act this way, do lots of younger guys. The younger guys can get away with it, but the older guys can't. That's what frustrates me.

If a group of guys aged, i dunno..20-30 were to play the "wolf" role and chase after a 22 year old..It wouldn't be an issue. The guy being chased may be flattered, and may get some dates or hookups out of it. But if a group of 40-50 year olds displayed this same behavior, it's considered creepy. Same behavior,Yet we treat it so differently simply because it's a different age group.

There was a guy on grindr who had "no 40 + creepos" on his profile, and I asked him if he were to welcome sexual attention from someone his own age, and he said hell yeah. This is what I mean, sexual attention from his own age group is "cool", from someone 40 +, it's "creepy". That doesn't sit well with me.

Jazz said...

My humble feeling is that we as a society need to steer away from gross generalizations. There are going to be older "stalker type" men out there and there are going to be younger "slutty" men out there. We need to come to a place of acceptance rather than judgement of each other in community. There are in fact some older men out there who do wish to be the "predator" and that's fine. The rest of community (society) needs to recognize that this is on some level, normal. Just like there is an active and a passive role (sexually), this also translates to the one who "pursues" and the one who "is pursued".

The bigger issue is that we generalize far too often and as a result, we create a space for ageism, sexism, racism and all the other "isms" we can think of.

For those "older" men out there who DO NOT wish to be classified as part of that "predator" label, what are you doing to actively shift that perspective for yourselves? I challenge you to step into the role of "mentor" or "Elder" for the youth where, if truly, the focus is not sexual, then you can actually create and maintain a relationship with younger guys that is mutually respectful and nurturing.

The youth of our community can learn a lot from the older generations. It's surprising to me how many of our youth have no idea about Stonewall or the importance of the drag sub-culture within the LGBTQ Community. This is only just the tip of the iceberg. How many young gay guys would know or be able to relate to any of the common references like "We're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy" or who "Julie Garland" even is or "Bathhouse Bette"...the list goes on. This is where I feel that there is a place for the older men of our community to "step up" to the plate and assume the role of "Leaders and Elders" rather than "Predators and Stalkers" to educate our youth through story-telling (an age old tradition in many cultures). Who knows what kind of beautiful relationships can emerge out of such a shift that may or may not involve sexual intimacy.

It's very easy to sit around and be a "victim" but a famous saying "Shit or get off the pot"...if you feel that there is some injustice, then what are YOU going to do about it (other than bitch and complain)?? As Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world". I implore you, elderly generations, BE that change that you wish to see in the world...