Age ain’t nothing but a number. But in the gay world, it can mean the difference between a warm welcoming smile and a nasty glare. Say hello to ageism. Ageism is discrimination against persons of a certain age group. Usually referring to the elderly. Now, you might be thinking that this issue isn’t unique to the gay community. And you’re right. It exists everywhere worldwide regardless of sexual orientation. But what makes it unique in the gay community is when you are considered to be “old” at age 40.. Some say 35!
The image of the gay community is built on youthful, muscular attractive (usually white) men. Or so it’s portrayed in the media. Rarely do you see anything to the contrary. But that doesn’t mean that older gay men don’t exist. After all, they’re the ones that fought for us to enjoy a life of freedom. I understand that everyone has preferences but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be polite or respectful.
The side effects of ageism are equally disheartening. Let’s take denial for example. Because of the perceived undesirability of growing old, many aging gays take every step imaginable to preserve a youthful appearance. Going to the gym 3 or more times per day, dressing like 21 instead of 40, spending insane amounts of money on cosmetic products/procedures like botox and filler injections. Keeping up with personal grooming and fashion as you grow older is perfectly fine. But when it’s done in extremes, like most things, it becomes an issue.Those that can’t afford to keep up with the latest anti-aging products or procedures often end up feeling excluded.
There are many other issues associated with ageism… This is just the tip of the iceberg. So how can we challenge the stereotype that growing old is a bad thing?