Greying gays :: not so silent anymore
Very few of us spend much time contemplating our own death. Even fewer of us devote much thought to the notion that just before the final curtain comes life’s third and final act: old age. Denial buys us a little more time to have another drink and cruise a little twink. The good news? Some of those twinks are ditching their daddy fetish in favor of hooking up with grandpa. More on that later.
But old age is coming, so get ready for it; because barring any unforeseen disaster, we’re all headed there - and charismatic lesbian financial guru Suze Orman seems to be the only one warning that you better have a plan before senior citizenship knocks on your door and bites you in the ass!
Perhaps that’s why as we age, society finds enormous comfort in rendering its aged population invisible. They’re disregarded as out of touch, senile or irrelevant - so as to put our own inevitable march towards the land of wrinkles and Social Security on the far back burner.
Age issues hit earlier
Now add to that mix LGBT identity - which comes with its own cultural consequence of invisibility. What’s worse, LGBTs seem to confront the typical problems of heterosexual aging at an earlier age.
Karen Taylor, director of services and advocacy for New York-based SAGE (Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders), notes that "Researchers term it accelerated aging. For gay men, the idea of getting older happens at a younger age than heterosexuals. Midlife for heterosexuals may be 40. In their 30s, gay men begin to think about themselves as being over the hill." The good news for lesbians? "The success of women’s rights and feminism have increased our capacity" to not judge or be judged so much on looks.
Magda Houlberg is director of Geriatric Medicine at the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago, one of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender healthcare organizations. She notes that "Older LGBT adults struggle with the ’double whammy’ of dealing with the negative associations that people have with aging in both mainstream and LGBT culture. So what happens when LGBT culture, which sustained you in the past, does not value you as much now that you have grown older? For many, they lose the feeling of acceptance when accessing LGBT community resources or participating in social opportunities. This erodes people’s support systems; something which we know leads to more vulnerability."
(Daniel Garza) is a psychiatrist practicing in Manhattan who has lectured on the issue of sexuality, aging and identity. Garza says "The roles that gay adults have to look forward to as they enter their 50s and 60s are not as clearly defined as they are for heterosexuals." Young straights, Garza notes, have certain paths and expectations which give them some amount of reassurance when looking towards the golden years: "Young couples look forward to being parents and grandparents, then retiring one day with their partners."