Ageism

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?

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2 thoughts on “Ageism

  1. clarkerong says:

    The eternal youth or Puer is a mythological and psychological archetype that every man faces, regardless of sexual preference or behaviour. Boys will be boys, it has always been thus. Youngsters want to stay young, fearful of nothing; and oldsters want to hang on, fearful of death.
    Ageism is in a sense a mechanism to keep the myth alive by shielding oneself from the ordinary human condition through extraordinary efforts. As the commercial sector takes more control of the lives of men – remember when it was only displaying bikini-clad woman on cars? – those with more “cash” embrace the “magic” of that market. Like Corey says: dressing like 21 instead of 40, spending insane amounts of money on cosmetic products/procedures like botox and filler injections. Gay and straight and in-between men are all seduced.
    But why does it seem to be particular to gay men? I ask two questions to the question. Are our liberation efforts supported more by certain markets than we realize? Are we not quite there yet? I mean, do gay men need to be more than average? Does needing to be more than average feed the markets which seduce us? Perhaps.
    And what about the thinly veiled unfriendliness expressed by some youngsters toward their elders? I suggest they befriend an older man. And, of course, the older man could be as young as 25! And what about older men who spurn in any manner of habit their own generation? I suggest they befriend a man of their cohort who has succeeded in dealing with his Puer conflicts.

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