Next month I hit the big four zero. Yep, I’ll be 40 years old. I’ve actually been around that long! I am joining the ranks of the middle-aged gay community. I am living an openly gay life, and I’m part of the new generation that is evolving in the gay community — the first openly gay generations were pretty much wiped out during the AIDS epidemic in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I have been openly gay all my life, I am part of the gay community, and I am getting older. The days of dancing around with my top off, holding a glow stick, do feel like a long time ago.
I may not know what songs are in the top forty music charts, and I may be looking at pension plans with a greater interest, but I am still young enough to realise that Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t a Viagra-fueled sex romp set in a retirement community.
It got me thinking. If I weren’t married to my really quite wonderful Scottish husband who looks equally as good in a kilt as he does out of it, how would I feel about being single, gay and in my forties?
Well, first, let’s have a little look at a few of the negatives.
Your body. If, like me, you have only had a fleeting interest in the gym, and your total gym hours equal less than a micro percentage of the combined times you’ve spent eating out, hung out in bars, sitting too long at your computer under the pretense that you’re doing research when in fact you’ve been chatting with friends on Facebook — well, your body is going to have squishy bits where they were once firm and toned. To change things now would mean draining much of the fun, down-time things you would do, and involve doing your impression of a hamster on the treadmill.
Less hair in some areas, more hair in others. Your hairline has likely receded and is changing to a silvery colour. Some guys do home dying and come out looking like a seedy, second-hand car salesman. If you are considering doing that, be warned: it’s not an attractive look. Neither is dying your beard. Let nature take its course, or at the very least, please get a professional to do it.
You are no longer the youngest person in the room, admittedly perhaps not the oldest, but still quite close to it. You suddenly discover that references to your favorite childhood television shows and music go completely over younger people’s heads. At times, it feels like you should get a Volvo station wagon, join the community action group, and spend your weekend holding a banner near a local shopping centre.
You are nearer retirement than you are your childhood. And that can be a scary thought sometimes.
Okay, okay, stop right there. You don’t have to start reaching for the yellow pages to find yourself a therapist to talk you off the ledge. Let’s look at the positives.
You’re established. You pretty much know where you are at, and you may already have 20 years of being in a career. You have more than likely bought a property when they were affordable, and don’t have the prospect of having to rent for your entire lifetime. Being established means you have more choice, you can follow your current path or make the decision to do something new.
You’re experienced. You know what works for you, be that sexually, emotionally and economically. You’ve been around the block to know what works for you. Some may say you’re an old dog who can’t be taught new tricks. How wrong that is! You’ve probably done them all and you know which ones work for you. Also with experience brings confidence; you know what the pitfalls are in relationship, and if you are dating someone who is age comparable, they’ve pretty much gone through the flaky stage and know what they want as well.
The population is getting older. It’s gotten even older since you started reading this article. The world is getting older, so the younger generations are the minority here. This means there are plenty of guys of comparable age, single, and in the same boat as you, plus they are available for dating.
You are nearer retirement than you are your childhood. This can be a good thing! You don’t have all that angst and aggravation you had when leaving education, getting into your first romantic relationships, and discovering proper adult relationships. You get to take stock of where you’re at, and have choices open to you that weren’t available when you were younger.
So hitting the big 4-0 isn’t bad. People are saying 40 is the new 30. I’m not one of those people, 40 is still 40, but now with even more older people above you, being 40 is not a death sentence for dating. It’s just a number. And the gay population is older, more embracing and fulfilling than it ever was.
So if you want to dance around with your top off, with a glow stick in your hand, do it. There are no particular rules. Live your life for you. We are really only the second or third generation of mature openly gay people out there in the world. Embrace the change, There are plenty of guys out there to go around.
JONATHAN WELFORD heads up GayDatingExpert.com, a relationship and dating coaching practice. He was awarded the accolade of being one of the top 10 Gay Relationship Bloggers for 2013. He writes gay agony uncle columns for numerous publications in both the UK and USA, and is also a regular columnist for DatingAdvice.com. He lives with his Scottish husband in Manchester, UK.