Anthony Carter

40+ and Refusing to Be Dismissed

Filed By Anthony Carter | March 08, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: body fascists, LGBT youth, mental health, relationships

Within the gay community, there seem to be two factions, old and young.

syndicatedpt3pic1.jpgI want to specifically address these issues even though I know someone will bitch and say we have more issues than this, or this is too simplistic, or we're far more complex.

Just hold on because for now, I want to address how these two entities connect and make for startling realizations, opportunities for growth and the success of our lineage and movement.

At 42, I have been recently informed that I am now considered older.

I don't know when/how/if this has truly happened and I am so glad someone took the time to let me know.

My friend Chris was trying to explain the skill set I bring to a project we're currently working on. In a delicate and diplomatic way, I was informed that I had a "different set of life experiences."

Are you saying I'm old?

Be careful. Remember, I created this project no sense in getting canned day one.

He is 29. I am 42.

When did this happen? At some point, I became, as Whoopi Goldberg would say, "the oldest thing in the room."

It is a very sobering and interesting place to be.

When 20 year olds ask you questions that begin with the phrase, "What was (fill in the blank) like when you were my age?", you know the afternoon is not looking so hot.

I can't get upset because when I was 24, four decades of living seemed as close to God as one could possibly get and still be on this planet.

But, my young, arrogant friends, the tide always changes, power always shifts so here is my gift to my gay brethren both young and old.

First fact, you will do one of two things - die young or grow old and then die. These are pretty much your options.

Along with these fun facts - hear it and learn it now - your body will change.

The six pack we are so violently obsessed with will give way to something you notice in the shower along with a big ass. It will feel as if someone snuck into the shower with you because this can't possibly be your body.

As far as a six pack and the incredibly discriminatory and fascist concern with body image, the day will arrive when that will not help you one wit. The day will arrive when you will be called upon to offer compassion for a dying friend, care for an ailing parent or uplift and support a discouraged lover.

Trust me, no one will be checking on your BMI when they find themselves in one of the aforementioned situations.

Part of getting older, hopefully, is recognizing bullshit and what is truly important in a more expedient manner. Dancing all night at bars, like I used to, and then having to go to work and drag ass all the next day is simply not an option as we age.

It seems to me that what older gentlemen like myself are seeking is this consumption of youth. In a culture as youth obsessed as this one, it is no wonder that we prize youth over experience and lean hard bodies with ones that have enjoyed a couple of brownies now and again?

How do we make experience, knowledge, social skills, and insight sexy and appealing ?

I haven't a clue.

We could demand that a different demographic be made the focus of advertising campaigns. We could not allow our heads to be turned by a dazzling smile and taut abdomen. We could fall madly in love with wrinkles, failing eyesight, love handles and ten extra pounds.

We could commit to being healthy and fit as opposed to thin and hungry and gorgeous. We could eat carbs and widen our aesthetic to be more inclusive of differing body shapes. We could make the worship of experience and knowledge a focus.

Sadly, I'm not sure how or if this is possible.

As much as I hate to admit it, I live for moisturizes, exfoliants and am a sucker for anything that lifts and tightens the pores. I am a part of this culture and in an industry that requires that you remain 30 for life.

Recently, I have met and socialized with a heap of sexy over 50 guys. What a bunch of fun, knowledgeable souls. Having learned patience, compassion and just plain, good old-fashioned sense, they are quite a bunch to love and emulate.


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Great post. I do agree there's definitely ageism in the gay community, I find it so irritating. Im 22, on nights out it's not uncommon for my friends to dismiss someone as 'old queen' for no reason whatsoever. I can't help but think if it wasn't for those 'old queens' we wouldn't enjoy the freedoms and level of equality we do today.

Having said that, could ageism not said to be just as rife in the straight community?

Brad Bailey | March 8, 2011 7:59 PM

You have a beautiful soul, Anthony. Your empathy and compassion for ALL generations of gay Americans truly expresses the spirit of progressivism. Thank you!

I was watching 1 Girl/5 Gays on LoGo the other day and nearly giving myself whiplash from rolling my eyes too violently. Fun television, but definitely a different perspective for me in terms of life experience. I do try not to use the [i]"When I went to school we had to walk five miles in snowshoes"[/i] line (One of my father's favorites) too often, since I vividly remember saying some things that caused both my parents to roll their eyes rabidly.

The nice thing to think about is that when you're in your forties, you're still the sexy young thing among the 50plus set. Well, its nice to think about until it dawns on you that each decade brings a narrower age group in which you can still be the darling.

Well thought out and written Anthony.

I think one bridge between LGBT youth and the older generation is mentorship in many forms from help in business advice to gay activist experiences to just dealing with life's problems. There are also many volunteer opportunities supporting troubled LGBT youth who have drug/alcohol problems and/or are homeless. You don't see these youth caring you have wrinkles or a pot belly. To the shallow young kids who just see an old queen I say your time will come and best to get real now.

gregory brown | March 9, 2011 8:07 AM

Oh, Anthony, you are a sweet man. And from my 63 years old perspective, you are much more interesting physically and in other ways than a 22 year old because you've had those life experiences and have thought about the implications of moving toward our shared ultimate end.
I've never been fashionable nor a pretty boy, but managed to become a sexagenarian who looks not a day over 59. I, too, appreciate and enjoy a greater variety of body types sexually and aesthetically. I feel impatience and compassion for the 20-whatevers, all so full of self-regard and still innocent about much of living.
Thanks for brightening my day with some simple truths.

Hell, I'm not even 40 yet & I've got younger guys calling me "daddy!"

Welcome to Life on the Other Side. I am now 58, and that makes me not "old," but "DEAD." Fortunately, I am not interested in the bodies OR minds of the under-40 crowd, so I am well insulated from the follies of gay youth culture. Fifty, BTW, is the Midway Point: you are now "young" for the second half of your life. Glad you socialized with some over-50s and found this out.

Love it! Great article!

I would point out: I've seen some hot as hell over 40s who are in amazing shape (check youtube absover40 I think is the screen name). There's more choice there than you let on, but yeah, as I near that age I'm getting less and less able to resist those brownies.

I notice in social situations, the hot young 30 somethings are all over me and then when they find out that I'm 37 it's like someone flicked a switch.

Money and power still conquer age. Ha ha :-)

Only recently I've noticed serious crows feet and alligator skin on myself. I guess I'm nearing that point.

Right now I can still turn the head of your over 25 crows. However, I notice new 25- interested in me. Only recently did I realize I'm apparently a sexy daddy type! :-) So, you make a lot of great points, but there is still something over the rainbow, or hill, or what have you.

Plus - you will always have people your own age. Who cares whether the youthful are paying attention to you? Hm, maybe there's something else there. And, if your lucky enough to be in a great relationship, then there are a lot of other things you gain.

Lee Sonoflaw | March 9, 2011 11:18 AM

Sweetheart, Just wait untill your 65 or 70+. The only 2 things younger folks will be interested in then are:
1/ What task or work can you do as a "volunteer" to save them more time to chase their personal dreams.
2/ Money or influence. Preferable money, but sometimes influence can get money.

I'm 52. And yep, you point out the same generation gap I find: "Like, wow, you can build a website?" Geez. But I think the straight world faces this too, in our youth obsessed culture. One reason for the trophy wives, right?

But as I tell the hotties -- 22 year olds are like fine museum art. Nice on the wall, but too many tourists come through to look to bother keeping one at home.

Gaytorguy | March 9, 2011 2:56 PM

I live in a college town. When semesters are in during fall and spring, the town of 100k becomes a town of 150K. Fully 1/3rd of the community is under 22 years of age. The graduate students tend to live here working on their theses.
I am 55, the majority of my friends are under 33. I only say 33 because 2 of my friends are 33. I agree with not saying, "When I was your age...." I offer insight when needed or required. I engage them in conversations, ideas, opinions.
I have always been liked by those younger and those older than myself more than my contemporaries.
Maybe it is our attitude as we age. I accept people for who they are or want to be. I like all forms of music. Heck, I was invited by two friends age 24 and 23 to go to a punk concert with them. I had a blast. But that is probably because I am open with them and they can be with me.
I am a friend to talk to, an old father-figure to confide in or ask advice. I wer all those hats. I enjoy people. And I think it shows.
I recently had a 25-year-old, fresh from Afghanistan, off his tours, working on a farm (Sounds like a Bel Ami video)hit on me! And no father issues.
So, sometimes the younger respect the older. But how will they respect elders if elders don't respect them to be themselves and express themselves?

a week from turning 29 myself, in a college town.

I think perhaps the divide wouldn't be so bad if those 42 year old queens would have a little more self dignity. The young are young...we can hardly expect them to change with the examples that are still being set for them.

Example from my home town: A 45 year old member of the "in crowd" professional class....sleeps with every young kid he can...including that recently turned 18 high school student. What an example.

Or all the other "older" guys who constantly pine for younger guys and are NEVER seen dating someone their own age. The excuse of "I act younger than I am" is ridiculous....I guess adults your same age don't put up with your BS.

Or the 30's and 40's and 50's folks who refuse to age gracefully at all? I don't mean just letting yourself go to unhealthy extremes, but how about life time fitness sports and exercise rather than only pumping iron? How about learning to share healthy meals with your friends and loved ones instead of eating nothing but chicken breasts, egg whites, shakes....and of course huge amounts of alcohol?

The ignoring of those who are at all not "hot" is far more common in an "older" crowd. And I don't mean "Hey young guys, give the older guys a chance...date them...let them hit on you." I mean treating everyone like they have something to offer. Perhaps it's just witty banter...fine...talk to them in the bar..don't assume they are trying to get into your pants. Just don't lead them on...they are big boys...they can handle a little flirt and nothing more.

That being said, this 28 year old rapidly balding man wears a baseball cap constantly. Hey, I am in a college town in the South...this is the uniform. :-)

I have a 73-year-old gay male friend who is a retired professor at my University, and we would get dinners often. He is such a wealth of knowledge about queer history and hearing about his life puts my experience today in perspective. Plus it's nice that he pays for the meals!

So I learn that the under-30 crowd is "arrogant," has never had to be "compassionate" (our friends never die and our parents never ail), and have no social skills.

I'm glad I don't hang out with the under-30 gays in your community, Anthony! It sounds like they suck.

Media and society place a premium on youth in this country and many newer industrialized countries. And countries where the population is trying or starting to emulate the USA are similarly stigmatized into the same frame of mind.
Nuclear, mobile families leave children out of the older generation. Nursing homes do the same thing. Out of sight, out of mind.
SOme youth are arrogant, most are not. Some older gay men only want young men. Most don't. I mentioned a 25 year-old hitting on me. Doesn't mean I accepted, but I was flattered. My comment was two-fold, but expressed poorly.
First, older people get set in their ways oft-times. It becomes a habit. Reading the same things, listening to the same music, seeing only the same type of movies.
Youth tends to be opinionated and they reflect on the sessile attitudes of older people and think they are out of touch. So, if they are out of touch so are the movies, the music and anything else.
My point was and is that ALL ages should be open to listening and seeing what the other age groups have to offer. Admire youth, do not obsess over it. Respect older persons for they may have experiences to offer.
Just accept the age you are in because unless you can transfer your soul to a younger boy, you are there to stay and age.
But younger persons shouldn't be so quick to judge either. Unless it is obvious. And I have seen obvious.
(A little tale of obvious youth obsession. When I was 14 and working as a bagger @ a grocery store, every afternoon a guy in his late 60's drove up in his brand new Trans-Am with a front plate stating "Hot 2 Go" on it. He positioned himself so he could look at and be seen by the high school cashiers. He would stay until closing time and leave. He came alone and left alone. Now THAT was obvious!) No all old gay men at a bar are trolls. Sometimes we just want to reminisce about what is was like back when we were your age.