Turning 25 to anyone under the age of 18 sounds like death a sentence. Turning 36 to anyone under the age of 25 just sounds like wind in an empty hallway – lonely. We all get old and according to Bette Davis, “old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Well, Miss Davis, sissies get old too, regardless if it’s not a place for them.
All of this is said because the gay men and women that paved the way for the younger generation to be able to live their lives with dignity and honor have gotten older and feel neglected. Why? Old age. If you think about it, our film icon was right. Old age isn’t a place for sissies or at least it’s a place that does not treat them as well as the land of young once had.
Pride is in full swing around the world and is a time to acknowledge and celebrate all of the accomplishments that have been achieved in and for the LGBT community. To be quite honest, we’ve been doing our forefathers a disservice by passing them by as if they don’t exist. A UCLA Professor and his colleagues studied a group of gay men over the age of 40 and in the study, these men were asked horrifying questions and were confronted with concepts such as, “As I get older, I feel more invisible when I am with other gay men,” and “Aging is especially hard because I am a gay man.”
Why do these men feel this way? What are ways the younger generation can make these men feel valued again? First of all, these men are responsible for homosexuality being visible. They held protests and began the fight for LGBT civil rights with the likes of Harvey Milk and other LGBT activists. Also, these men lived through the brutal annihilation of AIDS and HIV that took the lives of their closet friends and lovers. Our men that have dedicated the majority of their youth fighting against discrimination deserve respect, they deserve every goodwill proclamation possible, they deserve to be acknowledged. Yes, to some younger looking men are more appealing. But, to others, a seasoned experienced hot Daddy beats the blank canvas of youth more often than not. Get to know our older population and discover that and other surprises.
Throughout our youth, we see images that are nearly impossible to duplicate. Some of us over indulge at the gym, and develop an exclusive diet of water, almonds, cigarettes and vodka. Because of the highly sexualized subsulture in our community, we place a premium on physical appearance. Valuing chiseled abs and a strong jawline more than anything else has gotten to the point where our fellow gays are not only shamed for foregoing a muscular chest, but also for their older age. We’re discriminated against enough as it is from people outside our community, there’s no need to bring it inside the community.
In the last month alone, we’ve seen historic changes in the LGBT community: The Obama Administration implemented new federal rules on school bathrooms designed to protect transgender students from bullying (discrimination law Title IX); Eric Fanning became the first openly gay Secretary of the United States Army; same-sex marriage laws passed and came into effect in places such as Mexico and Greenland–among other milestones. All of these accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the now 40, 50, 60 and 70 somethings. These men and women risked their lives for the next generation to live their lives openly and without discrimination. Now that’s hot. Never forget. Happy Pride.