Opinion: Gay Millennials Need to Stop Age Shaming Our Older Generations ASAP

An episode of Will & Grace this season really got to me in ways that was meant to be funny but in actuality was quite saddening.

Will (Eric McCormack) finds himself at a local gay bar called The Cockpit with his friend of 30 years Jack (Sean Hayes).  For Will's situation, he meets a very cute 23-year-old named Blake (played by Tony winner Ben Platt) who comes off as adorably naive in the beginning of the episode but ends up being incredibly ignorant about any sort of LGBT history by the time the show fades to black. 

Jack, on the other hand, went through a traumatic experience that same night when he made eye contact with a younger gay man who then turned to his friend and said, "Daddies love me."  This caused him to go into hysterics and rely on Karen (Megan Mullaly) to literally shrink his belly and minimize his neck just so he could look good for men of the younger generation the next time he hit up a gay bar. 

Yes, it's funny.  Yes, we get it.  But it's a major problem that isn't really being discussed overall in the gay community.  Age shaming, just like weight, race, financial and many others is a big issue for all of us as many fear hitting a certain number plateau where we would be considered officially gone over the edge.  A twink becomes a twunk, a cub becomes a bear, and at some point, we start considering that number when we approach someone we desire or even want to talk to. 

New York City has hosted several of these "ageist" moments over the years for me, where I've been witness to many personal interactions and overheard conversations highlighting this sort of problem. It can even be a "seen not heard" type of thing.  For example, when you have a group of older men in their 50's and 60's corralled at the front of the bar and the young and hip dudes are everywhere else, the division is evident.  Even though not all millennials are guilty of doing this, there are still a ton who not only refuse to interact with the older generations, but also do not understand that the "older gays" are the reason we have our freedom today.

It baffles my mind that so many younger gay men are blissfully unaware of all that these men have done for our community, yet again and again I overhear phrases like "Forty? Ew!" or "He's old and gross. GTFO."  Even situations where an older man approaches a younger one can be a Russian Roulette sort of situation, as you never know what the other guy will say.  It remains very frustrating to see such animosity towards a group of men who went as far as getting arrested for speaking up for our rights while thousands upon thousands died in the process due to the onslaught of HIV/AIDS.

I'm a millennial and even I can say I have it freaking easy today.  I can go into a gay bar, be fierce, and talk about RuPaul's Drag Race or any type of "gay" related subject with anyone at ease.  I came out 18 years ago, and was scared to do so, but was accepted because as the years have gone on, the older generations helped normalize the coming out process by showing heterosexuals that we are just like them.  Today, it is (for lack of the better word) easier to come out than it ever has been, and we have them to thank.

Yet, we shun the older non-millennials.  Author David Toussaint brought this sort of issue up in a piece he did last summer called Daddy Issues: Are We the Lost Generation or The Greatest Gay Generation? The topic, for the most part, discusses how "daddies" from his generation are viewed as sexual objects for younger men, but they seldom forget about what they had to go through in order to even stay alive and get themselves to where they are today.  Have none of us actually seen any of these sorts of documentaries or even talked to them about their own personal experiences? For real?

It would sadden me, when us millennials get to a certain age, that the younger generations after us would have an even larger ignorant view than the ones we have now, as the baby gays don't seem to have a clue as to how we got here in the first place. This isn't a case of running to your local LGBT center and brushing up on your history as you have a pop quiz of sorts, but we should at least entertain the idea of talking to an older man the next time they wink, smile, or try to start a conversation with us.  You assuming that they are dirty and gross because of their age only makes you the asshole in the situation.  All tea, all shade there. 


This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine's overall.

Comments

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Im 60 haven't noticed it,I have no problem with grinder guys,in their 20s

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These little pretentious queens posting on here crack me up about older men and their so-called predatory behavior.  As if they're any different than younger guys cruising the bars and hitting on everything that moves.   I'm in my 40s, and while I don't go out that much, when I do, I get hit on more by 20-somethings than I did when I was in my 20s.  And it's not because I'm rich, because I'm not.  If you really feel that threatened by an older guy, and want to be an a** about it, you should be thankful anyone wants anything to do with you in the first place.

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Wait ... another thirty years of life, love and loss, will teach them that older men, with their greater life experience, and the sensitivity that grows out of it, are sexier than some twenty-something ever will be ... leave tha bland, muscle and money, comic-book movie, clothing and video game obsessed generation to each other.
By the way ... I'm 71 and still get hit on over the net by young men .. fortunately I prefer my fat, old, intellectually fascinating and sensuous boyfriend, (soon to. be Hubby).
To be fair, a proportion of those young men do not fall into the group that was described in the opinion piece ... they are thoughtful, cultured engaged and not at all like the bimbos described, which gives room for optimism.

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To the gay millennials who have no clue of what life was like in the 70s and 80s. Coming out of the closet then meant humiliation, scorn and even physical harm. As difficult as this was, we had to identify as gay men and women to begin “normalizing” those in our communities.  Before we came out, heterosexuals saw us as the other, evil side.  Only after we began to emerge did they begin to see us as their sons/daughters, brothers/sister, uncle/aunts, and other loved ones in their community.  Our courage to openly identify in the 70s and 80s, at great personal risk, was revolutionary for gay rights and deserves respect laid the groundwork for the rights you enjoy today. 

To the older gay population, please don’t be hypocritical, when you were the same age as these millennials, you no doubt, also engaged in the same behaviors.  I don’t recall my peers in their teens and twenties very welcoming to anyone over the age of 30. Many will claim to be an exception to this ageism but I hope you can honestly assess your own biases when we were young. 

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I came out in 1983.  We didn’t have the luxury of ageism because everyone around us was dying.  Young and old it made no difference.  We were far too busy caring for the sick, raising money and praying for a cure to engage in things that petty and worthless.  I was diagnosed in 1987.  I lost nearly all of my friends.  Boys in their 20’s to my mentors 40 and up.  I got lucky but millions did not.  For anyone to say we were possessed of ludicrous petty ageism in those times is wholly without merit.  We were scared, under assault, persecuted, discriminated against and reviled.  Parents were disowning sick children, and worse often refused to claim their bodies. We huddled together without thought for age or looks or anything else because we only had each other.  Kids today haven’t a clue what those days were like, nor do they comprehend or respect the unity it invoked which in turn spurred voices and activism that gave them the rights and privileges they take for granted now.  I’m long past the age of gay invisibility now and it doesn’t bother me.  In large part the youth of today are far too self-obsessed, vapid, insipid and ungrateful to waste my time knowing them.  

CastleSF's picture
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Your bitter evaluation of the younger generation only exposes your true sentiments: you are angry, condescending, self-aggrandizing, patronizing, and jealous of the success of younger people because they got it but you never have. As long as you continue to see yourself and your generation as the victim of the system and continue to harbor the delusional view that somehow the achievements of younger generation are to your credit, your life will be filled with misery and resentment. 

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"you are angry, condescending, self-aggrandizing, patronizing, and jealous"

This coming from some pseudo-intellectual twat.   Like anyone from the older generation is going to cast aside everything they know, and have learned and experienced because some nitwit twink, whose only frame of reference about LGBT history is probably YouTube, thinks he knows everything,  And trust me, sweetie.  NO ONE is jealous of you.

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Yawn   Such drivel. We were victims of a viscous disease and heinous discrimination.  In the face of which WE, not you, fought back and WON!  You enjoy the fruits of those labors in the rights you enjoy today.  I don’t however expect thanks from your ilk.  There is no hope for you.  You’ve done nothing and won’t.  It’s obvious your incapable.  Now be gone angry little boy.  You have no powers here.  

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As a gay man who came out at age 50, i have gotten those why are you here at your age looks .it doesn't bother me at all. Its expected of you to want a younger guy, but that's not always the case. I have 2 children and besides, why would a man of any age want to pay for sex with a younger boy who thinks he's all that, but is really only a 3 on a scale of 10, 10 being the best.

Young men today are selfish, arangant and like their str8 counterparts  want everything for nothing.

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Agreed. And they will cede the rights so many fought and died for in their laziness and arrogance.  

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CastleSF seems to be one of the hateful youth.  Not many see older men as  he does,  thank goodness however its castleSF and those like him that fail entirely too understand what older people went through so he could spout his hateful speech.  

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Do we need to respect older queer individuals and recognize their fight for equality? Absolutely.

Do we need to be forced to have sex with people our parents age? No.

You can respect people without desiring them sexually. I'm 23. I wouldn't want to sleep with someone who is 43, just as they wouldn't want to sleep with someone who is 63. It's natural to want to date close to your age. When someone old enough to be my parent approaches me in a sexual or romantic context, there are power factors at play that I don't want to participate in. When I'm 43, I won't be approaching people 20 years younger than me because it isn't fair to them.

Would we write a piece telling younger women that they're "age shaming" when they don't want to entertain men several years their senior? No? Then it's not okay to do with men either.

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What is unfair about a older guy hitting on a younger guy?  That doesn't even make sense.  Had it not been for older guys hitting on me when I was in my twenties, I would have probably never got laid.  I met a lot of really great, not to mention hot guys in their 30s and 40s when I was about your age.  They were really the only guys who would talk to me.  Most of the guys around my age at that time would just stand against the wall and stare and hiss at each other (now they just stare at their smartphones).

Now I am in my late 40s.  My husband is 17 years younger than me,  We met 5 years ago.  And guess what:  I didn't pursue him---he pursued me (and before you say he was probably looking for a sugar daddy, he actually makes more than I do).  I was at first uncomfortable about the age difference (mostly due to the insecurity young guys like you have given me about being older), and wanted to end it.  Thankfully he didn't care about the age difference; he didn't even ask how old I was when we met.  So if you think it's really unfair to him that I'm with him, I would love to see you tell him that.

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"I'm 23. I wouldn't want to sleep with someone who is 43."

Here's a newsflash.  Not all 43 year-olds want to get with you.  It's not all about you, dear.  And your time is coming.  Wait until about 5 years from now, when you're going to be told you're "too old" from someone.  It does happen and it will happen.

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The article wasn't necessarily all about wanting to have sex with older guys.  That being said, from my experience, guys like you who say they only want to be sexually involved with people around their age, grow up to be 30-, 40-, 50-something who still only want to sleep with guys your age.

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Just wait!  I guarantee you will change your tune.

I am 64 and prefer men my age, yet I am amazed at how many young men in their 20s desire me and find me "hot!"  I am flattered and yes, sometimes I take them home and teach them a thing or two! LOL

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Mmmmhm. Imma look for you in 20 years and see who you’re tryin to get with... same story, different cast.

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Agreed. I'll go even farther: it's  okay not to even want to talk to someone. I think the point of this article is that we should respect one another without being patronizing or belittling.

Back in the day, I learned the first reaction to have whenever anyone -- old or young -- hit on me: to admire his taste in men. That first reaction has stood me in good stead even now when guys searching for a daddy and who could pass as my grandson hit on me.

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Tom Daley is 23 and DLB is 43, so some young men do like older men. I think a lot of age shaming is due to insecurity. Older men who go to bars to pick up younger men are probably trying to prove to themselves they still have it. Likewise, there are young guys who are certain every older man lusts for them and there’s a good chance they’re not. In Boston we have a great place that is a bar/restaurant, all ages, all ethnicities, lots of people having a great time. It is more a date destination or a place for friends, but there is none of the nonsense of the bar scene.

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Anyone who thinks that we older gay man are hitting on them because we're at the same bar as they are and/or are trying to converse with them: don't flatter yourself.

Our main reasons for going to bars are to socialize, to listen to music, to enjoy the eye candy, and/or to enjoy a few (hopefully, well-made) drinks. Candidly, I don't care what people who don't know me think about me. That's how I made it this far with disapproving heteros and it's how I react to gay youngsters who think/say that I'm old and gross without knowing what I've done with my life.

CastleSF's picture
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Wh do you think you are that you can speak for all old gay guys at the bar? You may go there to enjoy yourselves but plenty of them go to a bar to terrorize or seduce young men. Often they don't take a polite no for an answer because they know that if they are persistent, some inexperienced young men will fall for their tricks. 

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"but plenty of them go to a bar to terrorize or seduce young men."

You sound a bit terrorizing yourself.  Quite a mental case, you are

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I am better qualified to speak for the vast majority of us old farts than you are; that's who I am.

CastleSF's picture
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The author in his delusional state of mind keeps saying that all the progress has been made because of the older gays. Yes there is progress but it has happened in spite of the old gays not because of them. This idea of "gay elders" and their deserving better dating chances is wholly repugnant. 

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Have you ever heard of Stonewall? Harvey Milk? While I would agree not every gay man over 40 was in the forefront or made history, to say progress happened in spite of them is ridiculous. 

CastleSF's picture
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Maybe the progress could be attributed to a very small number of older gays but the old guy you spot that is still hanging out at the bar is not one of them.

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And how would you know? You probably never bothered to give him the time of day.

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Have you surveyed gay bars across the country and asked all patrons over 45 what they did to support gay rights, or if their actions did thwart them? If you asked in Massachusetts, you do realize that the safe school program is over twenty years old and those who proposed it are in their 60’s and 70’s, and the same holds true for the marriage pioneers, and most of the young people in a Boston gay bar would have been in elementary school when it passed? 

CastleSF's picture
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A small number of gay patrons at gay bars may have supported some gay rights. Big deal? So now they deserve special treatments? My point is that everyone deserves our basic respect but the old gay guys are not "elders". They are no more or no less wiser than the younger generation.

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And with that the point of the article was proven. 

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If a middle aged straight man was hitting on young girls in a bar, would we feel the same way? Probably not. While many couples meet in bars, most of the gay couples I know where there is a significant age gap did not meet in bars. They share a common interest and the relationship develops. Also, just because a man is middle aged does not mean he is has wealth of knowledge and wisdom about being gay and the battle for gay rights. If the scene from Will and Grace happened at a museum, library or maybe a Starbucks, that would be one thing, but a bar? I love to share back in the days stories and hear them too, but in a bar? As a history teacher I can tell you, many young people today are more historically literate than the previous generation. Add to this, lots of people like to say they were there in the battle for gay rights, AIDS awareness, etc. Those of us who were there remember smaller numbers and leaders speaking about apathy. 

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Not what he is saying!

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Isn't it homophobic stigmatising a whole type of people of age shaming older men? It is just an episode of a sitcom; not real life. You don't know every homosexual man on this Earth and their way of thinking.

Stop assuming homosexual people form an illusionary community when most don't know each other. One thing is sharing the opinion of fighting homophobia, but that doesn't mean younger ones owe older ones dating chances.

And it is not like young heterosexual people don't exclude older heterosexual people.

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