In a new op-ed titled “Gay. And Approaching 40” published by the Washington Blade, Brock Thompson tackles what may arguably be one of the greatest taboos in the gay community: Getting older.
“Next week I enter the last year of my 30s,” Thompson begins, doomfully. “And I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed the past decade. Think of your 30s as your 20s, but with more money and a bit more sense. And I’d like to think I’m happier now, too.”
Generally speaking, we’d say that’s a fairly accurate analysis.
Related: An Open Letter To Ageist Gay Men
But despite all this, Thompson admits he finds getting older “a bit hard, especially knowing that in the gay community, age is not something we put a premium on.”
“In many ways we’re surrounded by those with severe Peter Pan Syndrome — boys that refuse to grow up,” he writes. “As a community we cherish vigor and six-pack abs. While I generally think I have the vigor part covered, I have stopped trying for the six-pack and settled for just ‘an ab’ of sorts.”
We hear you on that, Brock!
Thompson then recalls a recent incident that happened at a younger friend’s birthday party.
“I was chatting to another guest there, a bit of a twink no more than 21, and after introducing myself he basically said to me, ‘nice to meet you, but I’m not taking on any new Facebook friends right now.'”
“I began to think,” Thompson continues, “am I too old for this? Am I embarrassing myself by being here? All those thoughts akin to the first time I saw my dad fast dance at a family wedding. Is this whole thing getting a bit unseemly? But then again, who cares?”
Thompson’s takeaway from the incident was that “older gay men are too quickly labeled creepy trolls with little to offer.”
Why is that anyway?
“Some suggest that as a community we lost far too many in the past to AIDS that we simply don’t have enough strong voices or role models to look to on how to grow up with style and dignity,” he writes. “That may very well be part of it. But finding and keeping happiness as one ages must be its own formula. As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others, keep moving forward in your life, ditch the fear of missing out, and just live.”
Cheers to that.
Thompson adds that “we have spent a great deal of time convincing others that being gay isn’t a choice, we should also remember that getting older isn’t a choice either.”
“If we as a community start accepting all of that, maybe we’ll all be a bit happier,” he suggests. “And while I may not be aging perfectly, I’m perfectly aware of it. And I will continue the formula of daily moisturizer, cultivating friends from every generation, activity, and keeping at bay anyone who makes me feel bad about myself.”