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15 Aug 2011

Living a full life: Being mature and gay

Oogachaga, a Singapore-based counselling and personal development organisation for LGBTQ individuals, has launched a 36-page guide for mature gay men which can be downloaded for free now.

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Having recently launched Singapore's first gay dating guide, Oogachaga is back with a new publication; this time one for mature gay and bisexual men – defined as being aged 40 and above.

All images are courtesyl of Oogachaga. To download the PDF guide, click oogachaga.com/fulllife 

The 36-page booklet, which is available for download as well as in print, is based on an online survey of 300 mature men and a series of focus group discussions, and is launched as part of the group’s mature men project that started in late 2010. The project included a workshop that was attended by more than 50 participants on 19 February 2011 and two runs of Saturday Tea Sessions in March and June where each run saw about 10 to 12 participants per session.

Bryan Choong, Oogachaga's centre manager, told Fridae: “There are very few resources that can guide our writing in this booklet, and we could not find anything in Singapore. We also took a very long time to make sure this guide is relevant to the mature men.” 

He hopes for the guide to promote positive mindset towards aging as a gay man; encourage mature men to build healthy interpersonal relationship, whether it is with family, friend or partner; and raise awareness among the mature gay and bisexual men on various issues that are specific to aging, such as financial health and sexual health. 

The next Saturday Tea Sessions is planned for October 2011 and the next social event will be on 23 October 2011. For more details, email contact@oogachaga.com or call 626 86 626 or 6226 2002. Oogachaga operates a hotline (Tel: 626 86 626) from Tuesdays to Thursdays, 7pm to 10pm; and Saturdays from 2pm to 6pm.

To download the PDF guide, click oogachaga.com/fulllife.


The following is an excerpt from Living a Full Life:

BEING MATURE & GAY

Getting older (at any age) can be challenging, but it can be a really happy and fulfilling experience. There are many others who talk of “peak performance”, a “sexy midlife” and the “best years of their lives” as they embrace their mature age.

A mature gay man can be a caring, active and charismatic person. Your life experience has provided you with a repertoire of coping skills, resilience, better sense of self, assertiveness as well as support system.

Set a Vision for Yourself

Having a sense of purpose and passion and being able to impact the world with one’s talents is a central feature of being at a mature age. What makes you really happy and allows you to shine? Many find nurturing close relationships, managing career goals or maintaining household important.

Others increase their commitment to family and parents, or getting involved in activities related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) or straight communities. It is up to you to create that vision for yourself.

Befriend the Midlife

The much talked about “midlife” incorrectly implies that there is little time left to live your vision. You may experience anxiety and apprehension at realizing that you have lived half your life and you begin to re-assess what you have accomplished so far. This is the perfect time to revisit your original vision. Maybe you’ll find that it doesn’t fit you anymore and that it should be changed. Remember, it is never too late to start planning or adjusting your life direction so that you can enjoy your mature age.

Maintain a Positive Outlook

What we say to ourselves impact our mood and behaviour. Our internal dialogue affects whether we look at life through a lens of optimism and hope, or pessimism and negativity. You can start by removing that “monster in your head” through examining your self-talk.

-What does it say about being middle-aged?

- What does it say about starting a new gay relationship at this stage of your life?

- What does it say about you?

Maybe this could be a good opportunity to change the way you feel about yourself! You can talk to a professional on how to enhance your life or you can share it with someone who has overcome some of the hurdles through this part of life.

Build Your Support Team

Nothing helps you through the challenges of getting older better than a solid support system of friends and people who care about you. Invest in current and new relationships to give you that sense of connection that we all need. Try to look for other midlife gay men who can serve as role models.

You could even become a mentor to someone else!

Enjoy Your Age

Your future is within your control and you can steer in the direction you want it to be! You are as young as you think, and resisting the fact that life changes will only keep you blocked in your development. Learn to accept all the physical and emotional changes that accompany growing older. Be proud of who you are and your story.

For some individuals, their path to self-acceptance is not an easy one. However, gay men who have made that journey will tell you that true happiness really lies in loving and embracing the person you see in the mirror. Some people managed to achieve self acceptance at a younger age but gaining a better understanding of yourself when you are older can also be a very empowering experience.

FINDING CONNECTIONS

Connecting with Self

Most people are continuously on a journey of self-discovery, some start young and many only establish a better understanding of themselves when they are more mature. Through many conversations with mature gay men, what was striking was that their relationships with others became more enriching when they understand and accept themselves better. So whether it is physically, psychologically or emotionally, start understanding and loving yourself more.

The level of self-confidence can affect your relationships with your partner, your family members and even your friends. Self-confidence can be viewed in different ways. For some, it means knowing about what you are able to achieve for yourself; for others, it is the knowledge that you are fine and that you have an equal right to be here.

There are many ways to enhance your self-confidence and here are some examples:

- Keeping healthy through exercise

- Grooming that presents you at your best

- Reading on things that stimulate your thoughts

- Travelling to places that inspire you

- Having a good mix of companionship or friendship that affirms you.

For some mature men, having gone through ups and downs in life will also give them a better sense of self control and confidence in maintaining their lives. By understanding what interests you and keep you going, you can be alone but not lonely. In short, a positive mind is often translated to a healthy physical self.

Connecting with Family

Family forms the core of a support system to many and can be made up of your same sex partner, opposite sex partner, children, parents and siblings. In the case of a mature gay man, even the extended family such as nephews and nieces is important. Many receive comfort and care from family members, especially if the relationship is close. This tie is particularly crucial as you age and require further attention and care from others.

More in the guide:
- Same-sex relationships
- Financial health
- Sexual health
- Staying active
- Resources

To download the PDF guide, click oogachaga.com/fulllife

Reader's Comments

1. 2011-08-15 21:21  
What an amazing read! As a just-turned-60 gay man I have concerns and yes, I admit, some fears) I had been wondering about and , and this excellent document did a lot to open up new thinking patterns in my mind, about the many issues I am just now starting to confront on the path to accepting myself as no longer young, less desirable, and facing the 'downward slope' in my long, active and happy life. This is such a well thought out and wisely reasoned essay on growing older, and how to stay on the right path in my life as I face new (and many frightening) challenges in my life, such as winding down my job, retirement, my years as an older gay man, being less attractive, and other related issues. Thanks, Fridae, for the opportunity to expand my conscious approach to a very important question in my life! ozmoose (Don)
2. 2011-08-16 02:38  
Hi ozmoose, although this booklet is written for Singapore based readers, I am glad that you find it useful and relevant too. Do help us to share this with your friends or whoever needs it.

cheers...Bryan
3. 2011-08-16 04:17  
the 'Befriend the Midlife' part is kind of weird...
4. 2011-08-16 07:06  
A brilliant read and the best gift I could have received today which is my birthday.As the old Virginia Slims cigarette saying goes "Your not getting older,your getting better".
5. 2011-08-16 08:14  
Fantastic work, Oogachaga! Its a great message for those of us who are still young-at-heart. I really enjoyed reading this guide!
6. 2011-08-16 08:39  
I don't want to piss all over anyone's Cheerios, but, good grief! Isn't this all kind of obvious? Aren't these all the kinds of affirmations we have been taught throughout our lives? There is nothing here that is particularly relevant to old gay dudes. It would be refreshing to read a "guide to aging" that kind of deals with it in a very honest, no-holds-barred manner. Aging sucks, but I'm sure there are practical ways to deal with it and/or make the best of a sucky situation.
7. 2011-08-16 10:17  
but if U only live to say 41yrs you're be middle aged at 19/20yrs would you not, me I'm just living... and doing what I need to do to get to where I'm going, oh it does help to "surrender the things of youth" at an appropriate age as any boy who's had his bar mitzvah would be councelled, nothing worse than grown men competing with youth to be young, U got to have a working brain, self dignity and restraint, bozzin and trawlin for sex is not a particuarly good look at any age but decidedly worse after 30..just roam around Sydney to see all the scraggy chemed/drunk desperates spreading every virus known to man and you'll certainly see how NOT to live your life
8. 2011-08-16 11:17  
I'm thinking a bit like Hejira.... Do mature people really think about all these things... or do they just get on with life and accept that things change with time... not with age
9. 2011-08-16 11:41  
aging is caused by over drinking and smoking as well as sleepless nights of fun. easy to wear out than when young then keeping fit while aging.
10. 2011-08-16 18:05  
I applaud the efforts of those behind the project. They have assessed a need and are working to meeting that need. It is important to try new things, to explore new avenues for gay men to connect, share ideas and learn from each other.
Comment edited on 2011-08-16 18:09:46
11. 2011-08-16 19:44  
This is AMAZING. Great job to Oogachaga!
12. 2011-08-16 20:11  
This is fantabulous!
13. 2011-08-17 17:52  
Comfortingly good read!
14. 2011-08-18 01:42  
Thank you Fridae and Oogachaga for this project and offering us the free book! I'm entering middle age and I love mature men!
15. 2011-08-19 00:27  

All good advice if slightly sterile in how's it presented. I felt at times like I was listening to one of those 'change your life in five minutes' inspirational tips.

Allow me to recommend my own website which I created based on my own experience as a man coming out in his later years:

http://latelygay.com

Cheers,

Stephen
16. 2011-08-19 20:30  
Does mature mean between the ages of 40 and 45? That was my guess about the models used in the pictures. I'm 61, so to that extent I didn't relate. The text was fine, even though (as others have mentioned) designed for Singapore.
17. 2011-08-21 10:46  
one or couple of them I did, btw how's work in state or private company ?
18. 2011-08-23 03:35  
Really enjoy reading this article... Good job!
19. 2013-10-14 14:50  
Its very nice... I love matured guys though...
20. 2015-01-31 10:18  
Very sensible advice but not always possible to do all the things suggested. I'm still keeping up with the grooming, stimulating reading, exercise and travel but I usually do all these things alone. My partner died terribly in 1993 and now unfortunately my closest friend (not gay) has Parkinson's Disease while another is very seriously ill. I'm turning 70 next July and am basically very healthy but I'm increasingly socially isolated. Have great neighbours and a few younger gay friends, some only in their early 30's, but I really miss a close relationship. As Bette Davis said 'old age ain't no place for sissies'!

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