LGBT-on-LGBT age discriminationBill's Briefs, Bottom Highlights Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Social Chaos: Bill's Briefs
Several recent studies have dealt with the age discrimination and problems senior gays and lesbians face as they age. More often than with the general population, we have no children to take care of us; we have higher breast cancer rates and half of Americans living with HIV will be over 50 by 2015.
Lacking, however, has been coverage of LGBT-on-LGBT age discrimination. The obsession with youth, especially with the guys, creates an unwelcome part of a senior’s life. As we age we slowly realize we are no longer welcomed at the table. We fight with creams, diets and fashions, but Father Time wins. For gays, old is out.
A few years ago in Tokyo a new bar opened. My interest was piqued, so I checked and was assured foreigners were allowed. So off I went. I barely got in the door when a cute young man ran up to me. I smiled beguilingly, but he didn’t. Instead he pointed to a sign in English. I expected the usual “no foreigners allowed.” But no; it read, “All guests must be 37 or under.” Not 35. Not 40. Thirty-seven? Worse, it continued “… and look it.”
Closer to home, more recently I went on an all-gay cruise. The younger the crowd the greater and wilder the time. Those over 60, however, watched and were invisible. A few gentlemen, however, occupying large $1,000 a night suites with open bars seemed quite popular for some reason – probably the view from their balcony.
Does this happen in the San Diego scene? You bet. Ask anyone 65 plus. For youth the bars are often about sex, but many seniors merely want a chance for a drink and chat and why not start a conversation with younger guys? We enjoy being around their vitality and naturally we appreciate male beauty. Too often it is assumed we are there only to try to pick them up and if we dare look too long, the gaze is trespassing on their gorgeousness. Rude and unkind remarks follow, and not in whispers.
In our 20s and 30s my friends and I had no desire to have sex with much older men, but we had many interesting, delightful conversations with them. We realized someday the situation would be reversed and it happened. In our 40s and 50s we saw our chances of scoring with our top choice of the evening get lower and lower. At 60 the truth hurt and in a few years our invisibility in the bars was complete.
Does one give up? No! If you enjoy the bar scene, go for it. Remember, for respect and admiration, an interesting, friendly personality and well-groomed, manly appearance still work – just not like they used to. Fashionable outfits are still allowed – we are gay after all. But forget the shirt open to the belt cutting into the over-hanging gut. Look in the mirror. And, for goodness sake, clip your ear and nose hair, keep your beard neat or shave and forget the fashion model’s three day growth. It’s not the same when it’s white.
Never too old to change our mind
We are never too old to learn and re-adjust our thinking. Misconceptions abound and part of our never-ending maturation is to accept the fact we have been wrong. I remember realizing for the first time my infallible mother could be wrong. I was a nickel short for a movie ticket but mother said to go anyway, it would be OK. It wasn’t! I argued with the ticket lady to no avail. Mother was wrong. An astounding conclusion. Could I ever trust her again? My faith was tarnished, but I decided to give her another chance and she, like your mother, gave super advice. Some of the best was ignored. I ruefully remember, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is,” and, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.” You’ll see my point if you think stock market, real estate and love life. Need I say more? If we’d only listened to mother.
Another misconception was, “No one knows I’m gay.” Yeah, right. Just think, how many of us, when we finally got the guts to come out, were greeted with, “We know,” or, “We always thought so,” or more recently the simple, eloquent, “Duh!”
Gay guys can decorate was another favorite concept I changed once I started getting taken home to look at etchings. “Casual housekeeping.” Sorry, dear, it’s called a sty. Often the decor, if the word can be used here, was whatever the walls, floors and curtains were when they moved in.
My early ideas about lesbians assumed automatic possession of cats and a tool-belt. I now have lesbian friends with neither, and they are fully accepted in the sisterhood.
We also have the food preferences which change over time. I recall a food situation when a friend insisted, “Curry can’t be too hot for me,” and challenged the chef. The Thai staff found his reaction highly amusing and then kindly called 911.
When we were young there were many things we thought would never happen to us; for example, “senior moments” as they are now called. Last week, I was relating an enthralling account of my colonoscopy when suddenly I couldn’t remember the name of my doctor; and a minute later I couldn’t remember what the hell I was telling people about.
Finally, I was always sure I’d know when my time had come and it occurred last week. My friend dropped me off at my door, but as I tried to get out of the car I couldn’t move. I was frozen. Paralyzed. A stroke. This is it. Keep calm. Look for the tunnel. My friend saw my struggle, reached over and touched my side. Suddenly, like the leper touched by Jesus, I was healed. A miracle. I flew out of the car practically speaking in tongues determined to become another Paul. Then I heard the voice of an angel, “Relax, man. I just pushed the buckle on your seatbelt.”
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