GROW UP

An Open Letter To Ageist Gay Men

old-gay-guysThe South Florida chapter of The Impulse Group, a non-profit that “focuses on the sexual and overall health of the gay community” by throwing swanky shindigs, stands accused of age discrimination after demanding the over 40 crowd pay a $50 age tax “donation” for entry into a pool party in Miami.

After enduring a backlash, the group issued a defense saying ageism “played absolutely no role” in its decision to charge guys over 40 a fee to attend the event, and then insisted it was “deeply saddened and stunned” by the amount of hatred and vitriol organizers received, calling attacks “unacceptable.”

Sadly, these ageist pool partiers are hardly alone in hating on their fellow older gays. You see it all the time: On Grinder profiles that attack “old trolls” and “grandpas.” In bars where older gents are completely ignored or greeted with hostility. At Pride parades where it seems anyone over 35 is relegated to the stands.

The whole thing got us thinking about ageism in our community, a problem that seems to be getting worse, not better. So, without any further ado, here is our open letter to all those ageist gays out there…

Dear Ageist Gays,

George Bernard Shaw famously wrote “Youth is wasted on the young.” If you don’t understand what this means then you likely fall into the category of either ignorant or “young,” which, for the sake of argument, is under the age of 25… OK, OK, 30, for those of you still clinging. But that’s the cutoff, even if you are 50 and describe yourself as a “boi” on your Adam4Adam profile. (More power to you, dude!)

A stubborn minority of gay men maintain ageist attitudes. Just scroll through the comments section of almost any recent Queerty article about Madonna and you’ll see what we mean. In the eyes of many gay men, including, evidently, the South Florida chapter of The Impulse Group, 40 is the new geriatric and 50 is the new dead.

Yes, we’re generalizing. There are plenty of guys out there who understand that age truly is just a number, and that we all just happen to be at different places along our journey. But for those of you who take offense any time a man a few years your senior or sporting a few more wrinkles (wisdom marks, we like to call them) dares to look your way at a bar or say “what’s up?” on SCRUFF, here are three reasons why you need to get over it:

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1. It’s shallow and disrespectful

You don’t like it when people discriminate against you for being gay, right? Because, as Lady Gaga so eloquently put it, you were #bornthisway. Discriminating against someone based on characteristics that are completely arbitrary, such as age, is, in a word, bigotry. Not to mention, it’s rude.

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2. It’s a waste of time

Gay people have enough crap to deal with already. Truly, there is no need to waste time tearing down others for sport. We’re in the middle of a heated battle for marriage equality, gay men still earn less then heterosexual men in the workplace, and there are still states where it’s legal to fire someone or deny them housing for being gay.

If you’re genuinely bothered by a 40 or 50 or 60-year-old gay man merely existing in the same world as you, you seriously need to check your priorities. Nearly an entire generation of gay men was wiped out during the ’80s and ’90s. Try to appreciate those who are still around. They put up with a lot of shit and created a lot of change so you don’t have to. You should be flirting with them out of gratitude alone.

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3. It’s futile

Brace yourself because this one’s gonna hurt… One day that “old gay man” you loathe and fear is gonna be you. If you are even fortunate enough to grow old, that is.

That’s right, my friend. In the not so distant future, you’re going to find yourself on the receiving end of a younger person’s snarky sideways glances and dramatic eye rolls. Agism is unique in that you are hating yourself, not just others. Or rather, your future self.

And it doesn’t matter how often you work out, how big your tacky collection of Abercrombie shirts is, or how much Botox you inject into your face, the day will come when you can no longer rely on your youth to get by or excuse your behavior. You will actually have to be good, not simply young.

It’s amazing how time flies. Especially as you get older.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Queerty