Family & Relationships Sex Realted

The Queens and Kings of yesterday

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Last week I came across a post by an older gay man. I was quite surprised that he had access to the Internet and knew how to operate a computer, given his age. He seemed angry and disillusioned with the younger gay generation. He made mention of the younger community being ageist, sexually promiscuous and living in a fantasy world where coming out and having new found rights made them unappreciative of what is important in life. He made us sound like a bunch of fairies living in fairytale land. He stated that there are no gay role models and noticed a clear moral degradation amongst our gay youth. This made me wonder, is there an immutable generation gap, is it just a matter of growing up and coming of age in a different era or could he actually be right? This is my opinion…

Different generations face different problems. When I came out of the closet, at the age of 16, the reaction of my parents, peers and family was stereotypical. At that time (mid 90's) homosexuality was still taboo but considered less of an affliction and mental disease than it was before. Still my parents believed that prayer and therapy could "fix" me, but alas neither did! I am grateful I came out after aversion therapy's popularity dwindled, as I am not that fond of straight pornography or electrical shocks. Many older gay and lesbians found it much more difficult coming out (prior to the 90's and 80's). Many chose to stay in the closet and some even went as far as to get married and lived as heterosexuals to avoid reprisal and/or being ostracised - Brokeback marriages! The ones that had gay relationships did so in secret, having a "special friend" or "house mate" but never openly admitted their sexual orientation. It was only rumoured behind their backs. Access to the gay community was also restrictive as gay communities were small and sometimes hidden from sight.

Gay people became open about their sexual orientation when gay clubs and bars started sprouting in every town, as the gay community became more accessible and gay rights came of age. We express ourselves more freely now and no longer hide our relationships. We even have pride parades. This new found freedom could be conflicting to the older generation who were never offered these opportunities and whose value system were shaped by the era they came of age. As the gay culture evolved the changes could have caught some queens and kings of guard. The traditionalist values of yesterday have now been defied, but this does not mean that the princesses and princesses does not face challenges of their own.

In a society that has not truly overcome homophobia we all still carry this burden at times - coming out still is not easy. Issues of acceptance, monogamy and ageism still pose a challenge. As mentioned in a previous post about relationships, I would hate to be single at the age of 31. Being single while in your prime (ages 18 to 26) is far less complicated. Once you enter your thirties you no longer have youth on your side, you are more career orientated and, I for one, could be said to be somewhat set in my ways. Therefore, finding a companion is slightly more of an endeavour. Being a gay man or lesbian in your 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's I would suspect is even more difficult.

Being middle aged and gay, where do you go to find your soul mate? At a certain age clubs and bars may seem daunting and understandably the younger crowds could make you feel out of place, like a sugar daddy or a dirty old man. There are no real places for our queens and kings of yesterday to shine. Does this mean we have to exclude them from our community? Should we do what was done with the elderly in the middle ages and expel them from the village as they serve no more perceived function?

I would admit that there are not enough gay role models. We might not have accepted or fully understand the freedoms we have today apposed to the lack of it our older queens and kings faced. If we did, I believe we would act with greater responsibility, respect and appreciation. Maybe we should not look for role models amongst our own generation, but rather to those of the generation before us. Look at what they survived, sacrificed and accomplished for us. We may not always understand their reasoning or certain judgements they fell over our behaviour, relationship choices or sexual escapades, but we can make more of an effort to understand them.

Till next time

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