By: Jorge Diaz, MSW – Clinical Social Worker – Jorgediaz2010@gmail.com
Aging-a complex and scary experience for some and very liberating and empowering for others. Why is aging such an interesting topic among gay men? Do we discriminate and shame others based on age? Let’s break this down. Some people say age is just a number… However, that number seems to be a deal breaker in many situations. You can’t get into clubs unless you are 18 years old. You can’t LEGALLY drink unless you’re 21. And you shouldn’t have a Grindr or Jack’d unless you’re 18 years old. However, you can fall in love at any age, HIV and STI’s don’t have an age criteria and success and setbacks come at any point in our lives. Age is indeed nothing but a number.
However, it’s a number that dictates so much in our lives. Why do we use age to shame other’s social or sexual behaviors, clothes and style or who they chose to date or love? Ageism is all over the place. Let’s start with social dating apps. Isn’t it hilarious when profile headlines read “No one over 30” or “No older guys!” WTF?! As if they won’t turn 30 themselves! There must be a negative image or concept of an “older guy.” What is “older” or what defines a man “an older man?”
Let s move into the club scene: often I find “younger” guys mocking or talking about the “older” guys at bars and clubs-as if we are not allowed in a club or bar once we reach a certain age. Really? Once again, when did we place an age limit for those of us over 35 who still want to have a social night life? Let’s talk about image: when did we become fashion police and dictate what we can or cannot wear based on our age? Depending on how old or young you are, don’t you dare have freedom of expression and wear whatever you want. Not allowed! We have an age criteria for that!
Then there’s the love department and age: don’t you dare be over 40 and think of dating a 24 year old-unless you are ready for your friends to READ you! However, we forget that love comes at all times in our lives regardless of age. As long as you’re ready and open to embrace love-who cares how old you are! The reality is, without some of the “older” gay men in our community, we wouldn’t have the liberties we are able to celebrate. Without “them” who knows where we would be in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Without “them,” who knows if our relationships would ever be protected by the law and without them, who knows if Prep/Pep would be available. We have come to a point that we should be able to be who we want, do what we want and wear whatever we want! After all, age is nothing but a number.