Reflections on aging
It was one of those moments that make you doubt the whole concept of intimacy. I was getting dressed for work, finally feeling relaxed enough in my job as a writer-producer on a prime-time TV series to wear jeans to the office. My partner watched from across the bedroom. "Don't you think it's time you surrendered?" I didn't like the sound of that. "What do you mean?" I asked.
"Not at all. That's why I bought you those looser-fitting jeans at Replay. I'm just saying, not the 501s."
For a long moment I just stood there. I was angry, and I was hurt, but I wasn't going to show it. After all, maybe he was right. Or maybe he was telling me the tight 501s made me look cheap. Maybe he didn't want me to be too attractive to other men.
I took off the 501s and put on a pair of khakis. "Does this look better?"
We ate breakfast in silence.
Is this the moment every gay man dreads? Someone tells you kindly or unkindly, "Honey, you're just too old to be hot."
Several days later at work, the celebrated executive producer of another series passed by our offices. Several years older than I am and with a Pillsbury Doughboy body, he was wearing a pair of tight 501s and a form-fitting shirt with the top three buttons open. At that moment I was so grateful that my partner had had the courage to be honest.
Knowing when to surrender: I suspect that for most of us the realization arrives two or three years after it should have. And it's not just about how we dress. It's the whole package. It's how we see ourselves and how we present ourselves to others. At 49, I don't know any gay man in my age group who isn't wrestling with this dilemma
As baby boomers--the first generation of gay men to come of age post-Stonewall--we've always prided ourselves on our youth and our sexuality. But now we're no longer young. And the only role models we have of sexy gay men are at least 15 years younger than we are.
The big fear, of course, is that we'll never get laid--or, more precisely, that no one will ever want us. It doesn't matter if we've been in a monogamous relationship for the past 25 years and wouldn't think of doing anything anyway. We still want someone to want to jump our bones.
A few weeks ago I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in months. I had always known him as having a full head of suspiciously black hair. Now all of a sudden he had a full head of ... white hair! What happened? He told a sad tale: Depressed over losing a job he thought would last forever. Going out every night and not getting any attention. The gray hair was coming in faster than ever--too fast to keep up with, really, and what difference did it make? In a binge of self-pity, he let it grow out. Then all of a sudden he was getting more attention. And the gray hair didn't make him feel any different or even any older. I think it makes him look more self-confident.
Sean Connery remains one of the sexiest men in the world in part because he seems so comfortable with who he is, including his age. "Surrendering" doesn't mean letting yourself go; it's knowing who you are and not pretending to be otherwise. It's appreciating the range of knowledge and the variety of experience that comes from all those years of living fully. It's recognizing the strength that comes from surviving. It's knowing that what you bring to the table can actually be an asset. It can make you more interesting--to someone who's looking for a man, not a boy.
Can we ever feel comfortable with ourselves if we're not sure whether we're pulling off an illusion? Can we ever project self-confidence if we're worried about the seams showing? Maybe we need to foster images of sexy older gay men--and not some incredibly buff "Ripley's Believe It or Not" dipped-in-formaldehyde specimens.
In the end, maybe it's about knowing how to market yourself: how to take advantage of what's most attractive about yourself and putting that forward. Maybe, more than anything else, it's actually believing it.
Gollance is a veteran television writer-producer who's working on his master's in gerontology at USC.
sort of depressing ... don't you think?
If I don't find someone by the time I am 40 I think I'll just hang up my hat (literally) and let everything just go.... *sigh* Why bother when over 35 and average looking means :
1) You have to be the stronger (wealthier) partner (I am on a pretty tight budget currently)
2) Have to end up with someone who is not your peer (years older usually) and usually doesn't do it for you sexually. After all almost anyone who can be considered "hot" over 30 is capitalizing on that in the Twink marketplace. I don't really want a twink, but rather someone my age who is chemically (at least) compatable. It's just not going to happen, If I see one more profile for a 30something year old looking ONLY for under 30....
ok so mayble I am being dramatic (a bit) but still....