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13 Apr 2007

golden men

Fridae's ageing (but still attractive) columnist, Alvin Tan, ponders on the issue of turning grey in a community obsessed with youth and of course, youthful looks.

And so they say, the only thing that stirs more fear in the hearts of gay men than getting old is looking old.

I have an unshakeable conviction that my legendary ability to summon forth brontosaurus-sized erections just by promenading across the room will diminish proportionately as I age.

Like many gay men who are no longer in their twenties, I am seized by an irrational fear of growing old and any thought of impending dotage is so terrifying that I could just squat down right now and fertilise an entire field of azaleas.

For the gay community, growing old often brings with it the attendant fear of doing so alone - especially if one is not in or is unable to form or sustain a long-term stable relationship for whatever reasons.

Even for those who are fortunate enough to face their twilight years with a partner, the fact remains that many gay men would not have children to look after them - both physically and financially - when they are old and infirm.

Fortunately, gay men have, through the years, built up an alternative "family" comprising gay friends (and some straight ones as well) and it is often towards these families that gay men will turn to for support.

Preferring to be safe than sorry, my partner and I have started saving up and are determined to do a Bradgelina and start kidnapping, sorry, adopting children. In the meanwhile, we continue to perfect our parenting skills on our Siberian Husky.

However, growing old alone is often surpassed by the fear of losing one's physical and sexual attractiveness as one ages - and this is especially true in the gay community due to its obsession with looking good and appearing youthful.

Many of us fear growing older because we equate aging with a fall in our hot-o-meter readings and with physical changes such as going grey or bald, gaining a paunch, developing sagging man boobs, losing muscle volume and tone etc.

To make matters worse, we rarely see older gay men portrayed positively as sexual or sexy, and too often, we relegate them to stereotypes of bar trolls, flaming old queens, sugar daddies or asexual individuals.

Personally, I dread the day when I could no longer carry off a gold-bra-and-hot-pants ensemble with panache and worse, when some upstart twinky would give me the once-over at the club and say: "Aren't you too old for those shorts?"

The good news is that, compared to our heterosexual counterparts, us gay men tend to take better care of our appearance, and hence many of us often look far younger than our actual age.

Why, I barely look a year over twenty - all thanks to my beauty mantra: "Moisturise. Anti-oxidise. Glamourise." And of course, my constant efforts to avoid premature aging by shielding myself from the sun's damaging rays with my lace parasol.

(Editor: All together now: Roll eyes!)

Having said that, growing old or older is not necessarily a bad thing (yeah, right) - provided one does not try too hard to hold on to an image of oneself as being 25 forever (Alan Tam, are you listening?).

In my case, my priorities now and my priorities then are vastly different, and my life is all the better for it. Back then, all I care about was how fabulous I was, how hot I looked with my shirt off, and how many parties I was invited to.

Now, I find myself more concerned with my career and spending more time with my family and friends - although I still care about how fabulous I am and how hot I look with my shirt off - but only to my partner.

I also find myself less vacuous and more mature (don't laugh) - both mentally and emotionally - these days, and in a better position to offer advice having "been there, done that."

Precisely because of that, I strongly feel that the older we get, the more interesting we should become because we've been storing up experiences, making friends, and learning about who we are.

More importantly, older gay men tend to have already earned their sexual stripes and are therefore better skilled at lovemaking (sexual stamina not withstanding). For to paraphrase Uncle Ben in Spiderman: "With great age, comes great sexperience."

Comparing my bedroom techniques in the past and right now, I am proud to say that I would never have mastered The Italian Method (aka the art of putting a condom on a guy with my mouth) when I was just starting out.

It is therefore my hope that the gay community would look beyond age and finally celebrate the older gay men for who they are and what they did (and can still do) - namely, paving the way for the new generations of gay men coming up.

Still, growing old or older does take some getting used to. I, for one, have yet to get over the trauma of not having the cinema usher or door bitch ask for my identification card when I go to the cinema or drop by the clubs respectively.

Worse, when in conversation with the new generation of gay men, I often find myself on the receiving end of the type of comments sprouted by Rachel Bilson's character Summer in The O.C. who said: "I'm sorry - I don't get references before 1990."

In the meanwhile, I'm banking on good genes and a healthy lifestyle in the hope that I would end up looking like the resplendent Maggie Cheung when I reach my 40s rather than Rue McClanahan in The Golden Girls.

Now excuse me as I go marinate myself in SK-II Miracle Water.

Reader's Comments

1. 2007-04-13 19:11  
made me laugh out loud many times but RUBBISH lah.

no one would date old gays.

reason simple: older generation gays v effeminate and loud.

younger generation more manly and cute.

lying no good.
2. 2007-04-13 19:44  
A light hearted satire editorial... Well written, funny But I hopefully u'll go into those issues as per addressed in a deeper sense.
3. 2007-04-13 20:05  
Well, I guess it depends on the connection. Who knows, there is always a market for anyone. I am sure. Its just how beautiful you are. and what kind of people you are attracted to.

4. 2007-04-13 20:47  
There's always glory holes.
5. 2007-04-13 20:50  
Well, some amount of Looks ARE important, to a certain degree [said the guy with NO pics visible on Fridae as he types - hey, I'm updating again Tonight, okay?!] but they're only part of the whole package.

Isn't it more important to worry about the person behind the looks; the ghost in the machine, so to speak? Rather than worry about deepening crow's feet around the eyes or slightly growing love-handles on the hips, isn't it better to ask yourself what You did to make a difference to the world today? How many gay men have I - and you, and Everyone - met that ONLY judged someone else on what they look like, regardless of personality and character?

Too bloody many, that's how!

And anyway, let's face it, when you're rather lacking in the looks department to begin with - ahem, yours truly - frankly, the inevitable march of time across your face is not a great worry anyway. I imagine it's MUCH harder to deal with spotting lines and wrinkles and blotchy skin and white hairs and so on if you've been one of The Young And The Beautiful Crowd.

And now I feel like wandering off topic to mega-bitch about ALL the 'Silver Foxes' - 50+ year old fat white guys who're ALWAYS chasing 20-year-old asians - but, frankly, that's a whole other topic to get annoyed over...
6. 2007-04-13 21:12  
Well written and funny, so bravo. :)

Meh, I think it's uglier when gay men refuse to age and they are trying so hard.
Comment #7 was deleted by its author
8. 2007-04-14 00:02  
Age is just a figure of no significance. It don't reflect maturity in thought, health, fitness, wealth, success... merely how long you've been on earth.
9. 2007-04-14 01:16  
There's no mystery. Ageing is inevitable just as death and taxes are :-) The only way to go is to embrace it with open arms and just keep the wheel well-oiled and moving until it just stops moving of its own accord :-)
10. 2007-04-14 01:56  
Anyone thinking of opening a gay village home? Surely there is a market to bring them under one roof.
Comment #11 was deleted by its author
Comment #12 was deleted by its author
13. 2007-04-14 06:54  
Poor asexstories Post Number One his profile reveals that his greatest attribute is Prefer Not to Say and he has by his own admission No Friends. I venture to say that he will remain that way until he changes his tune . Not all older men are effeminate and loud..indeed many of us are manly and quiet at least until we finish that bottle of Bombay Sapphire! But why the hell should we not be what we like when we are older.....that is one of the greatest joys and boni of ageing, casting off fear and inhibition, scolding and praising as we see fit,laughing at ourselves as much as we laugh at the rest of gay and straight people. The warmth that greets me as I wander about (clothed I mean) reminds me that I am still desirable to some. I do my best to keep myself nice but I do not go overboard. I am not going to enrich Estee Lauder and her clinique label for nothing. I eat extra virgin olive oil and I drink a modicum of red wine, I love vegetables and fruit.Yes I am a bit tubby but I have a life to attend to and it is hard to fit in four hour sessions at the Gym Narcisse when you have activities and real friends. Thank you Alvin I drink to you, dear, long life in abundance and many happy shags!!!
14. 2007-04-14 07:22  
Excelent essay Alvin...Check out my raymundohpl fridae listing's blog for some similar and more risque comments on growing old...See Ya!
15. 2007-04-14 10:08  
This is thoughtful writting. The majority of gay men retire together with their long-term partners. There are many gay retirement villages (or communities) in the u.s. The most well-known gay retirement town is palm spring, ca.

Also, there are many white/asian gay couples who retire overseas in countries such as thailand, vietnam, china, ect...
16. 2007-04-14 10:31  
The attitude towards age (and ageing) is very much a matter of the mind. And if you don't mind, then it does not matter! Afterall, since ageing is an inevitable fact of life, why not embrace it rather than get all flustered and bothered by it?

Bottomline is to age gracefully, remain young at heart, and keep those brain cells ticking and working, be open to new experiences and continue living and learning.

For me, the most important thing is to accept a person as he/she is. Age is but one tiny aspect of a person's entire make-up and persona. If you mark a person off based solely on his/her age, you may miss the wonderful opportunity of getting to know and make a new friend. That will just be your loss, I guess?

Reversely, those who are older should also not dismiss those who are younger as immature and inexperienced. Everyone, regardless of age, definitely has something to offer in a friendship or relationship!
17. 2007-04-14 11:29  
Agree totally and absolutely without recourse! Age is the greatest enemy to us much more than to the straights, male or female, because they have legitimate offsprings in life to care for and look forward to. We only have ourselves and our charm to go by. So, the only way to go about it is to age gracefully. Nuture your inner beauty (yeah, right) because there are many many young men (and women) who worship older men (and women), finding them sexy, magnetic, and irresistible. Try the gay scenes in Japan, Hong Kong, China and elsewhere in Asia, where old (older) egoes are so revalidated and marketable! Don't forget, sometime in our younger days, we used to go for older men (women). Try recalling that feeling and you'll feel much better growing old (older). The most pathetic thing is to age unwillingly, desperately clinging to spring attire in winter, not knowing when to take the final bravado and make the gracious exit.
18. 2007-04-14 14:00  
my boyfriend was born in the 60s,
there're gaps, but they're never the problems.
he's my golden man and guys at the certain age r attractive, they're happy, confident and caring, why not fall in love with them? :)
19. 2007-04-14 14:41  

I don't believe it's true that gay men fear aging because "...many gay men would not have children to look after them - both physically and financially - when they are old and infirm." Gay men fear aging because *most* of the gay community is so overly obsessed with physical beauty, that they rarely pay any attention to the persons inner beauty. So they fear losing their physical beauty, which always disappears with age, and then being relegated to the ignored and unnoticed...which is something worse than death for many gay men.

However, I wil acknowledge, in my experience anyhow, the youth and beauty obsession is a much bigger issue in the US than what I experienced in my visits to Asia.
Comment #20 was deleted by its author
21. 2007-04-14 17:22  
Aging can't be avoided. But to be honest having kids is more a liability than an assest if the kids
are disrespectful, selfish and don't care about their parents anymore.

Many straight couples love to mock us on not having kids and will be lonely. But if kids grow up later and have their own life and businesses, who care about them as their parents.

Some kids are nice enough to remember and care their parents and not put them in the nursing homes ever.

But at this time how many of them still do ?

Many who got married regret they would say
I wish I can stay single or maybe be a gay


22. 2007-04-14 17:26  
Gays with careful and smart financial planning, investment and watch their lifestyles

have much more disposable income to spend on.....

We never worry about preparing college fund for kids, or worry about health insurance for kids, meals, allowance money, vacation for family etc.

Kids cost money dudes !

Why not find a real guy who loves and have the best plan to grow up together to share this beautiful life without worrying those stuffs.

23. 2007-04-14 17:39  
Grow old in China! Chinese men appear to be attracted to the 'older man'!
Comment #24 was deleted by its author
25. 2007-04-14 17:47  
*Points arrow at asexstories*

May the Goddess Artemis guide my aim!

*Pulls enchanted bowstring back ...*
Comment #26 was deleted by its author
Comment #27 was deleted by its author
28. 2007-04-15 01:52  
Most gay couples have long-term-care (LTC) insurance to cover nursing homes or at-home-care expenses when they retire. Some LTC insurances also pay for retirement in oversea countries. It's much better to retire together with your long-term partner rather than being alone in the golden years.
29. 2007-04-15 11:51  
Very funny article and useful advice, or at least a good pep talk, thanks:)
30. 2007-04-15 12:12  
I'm not the most attractive guy in the world by any stretch of the imagination. So i'm not tryng to boast or blow my horn but if you exercise and take care of your body, you stay younger longer.

I'll be 42 in a few months and I get way more dates and requests for dates in my 40s than I ever did in my 20s or 30s. It seems that many guys want to date either a "daddy" or an "older brother". I'm not sure why exactly but it's certainly good for me ;-)

Best thing to stay young: weight lifting
It's the only thing that will keep your body trim, fit and attractive.
Just check ageing bodybuilders. Gary Strydom is a perfect example. Still in perfect shape at 47. More muscular than ever. Hormone therapy is a good thing, folks!
31. 2007-04-15 15:37  
i like dating older guys...they seems to be more experienced...n those wrinkles...oh fuck me daddy!..hehehe
32. 2007-04-15 18:18  
5 years ago i woke up with a calling (or uncalling if you might say) decided not to go to the gym. I have decided to keep it simpple and abck to the basics. Eat well, sleep well, stop partying and drink at least 5 litres of water every day !

And it works .. i shan't say i am in the best of shape. But i never looked younger and healthy. I have compliments more than the usual "you look tired and are u alright" ... the downers !

So i reckon Alvin's saying when he wrote that our prriorities are so much different form our "younger & gulible" years !

Hence, brothers and sisters of the mid 30's and more ... let's embrace ourselves for the future with lots of what Alvin said ? ..... Oh Yes .. SKII ! Give me the whatever you have !

33. 2007-04-15 19:15  
i started reading this article and started to think "oh dear..here we go again". Let's highlight the "old guy has no future" line. I appreciate that no one wants to "grow old and be older" but hey..it's what happens to all of us. There is no shame in being older. Being happy with life, what it presents and the attitude with how it is handled is what matters.
34. 2007-04-16 01:01  
hhmmm what does the female community have to say on this matter? this is a glbt community, but i only hear men..

i have friends who have expresed that they would like to start up a female/lesbian retirement home in one of the countries in asia, aka buying land and building homes around it so we can "grow" old together..
Comment #35 was deleted by its author
36. 2007-04-16 01:18  
With all the beauty and health products, the new technologies, the emphasis in healthy living and living well - the process of aging can definitely be delayed. I am definitely better looking now (that I am reaching my 40s) than when I was in my 20s. As we grow older, we have the financial ability to make ourselves look good and we become more sophisticated and experienced. What is important is still the beauty within us which will never fade with age ...
37. 2007-04-16 08:30  
Such a coincidence that this article publish 3 days before my B'day, :) kinda relieve some of my fears, help me see there's alot of people have the same problem. I guess not only the midlife gays feel the same way, the early and mid twenties feels the same fear too, and being beautiful and youthful is being too overrated. When a gay man or a lesbian woman worried more about this things..wouldn't it be like creating another wrinkle lines? So might as well embrace it...eat well, work hard, play hard, safe sex, and good companion. So Fuck aging! :)
38. 2007-04-16 08:38  
When I was 20, I had friends who I slept with who were 17, 24, 43, and 64. A couple of them were also lovers....Now I am old, I have friends 19, 23, 36, 39, 48, 62, and 74. A couple of them (literally) are also lovers....It is true, we can be sad and alone when we are young, or when we are old, or both. The only antidote to aging, sadness, and loneliness, is developing your heart and spirit, as well as your mind, muscles, and bank account....Compassionately to us all, heart2heart (older than club boys, younger than dinosaurs...and less sexy than both).
Comment #39 was deleted by its author
40. 2007-04-16 11:03  
Is the issue purely one of young versus old?

I think it is also a combination of shallow versus thoughtful, get stoned versus read a good book, and insecure obsessing about your body versus accepting yourself (and others) for who and what they are.

When we say that the gay community is obsessed with youth and looks, that's true of society as a whole. As consumers - GLBT, straight and otherwise - we have to decide whether we're going to buy into the paranoia or not.

My partner and I - early and mid-30's respectively - enjoy a wide range of friends from different backgrounds and countries, of different ages and beliefs, with different interests and activities, and find that the common denominator to these friendships is a willingness to accept others and yourself instead of holding people up to some advertising and marketing-driven expectation.
41. 2007-04-16 11:54  
I must admit this ageing does bug me a little (I am turning 30 yo this Dec) and I keep reminding all my friends that I am STILL 29 (down side of being Dec baby).

Well, I must agreed with Alwin that it takes time to accept it and I must said I am more or less prepare to grow old with out without a partner. I used to have this fear when I was much younger but I realized I can't waste my time worrying and being in fear and just accept the anything that might come my way while able to enjoy my life being fantasic. :)

I am glad that I do have my own "gay family" to fall back in case I really do grow old without a partner...hehe I am sure when I turn 35, I have someone to accompany me a botox treatment! haha :P
42. 2007-04-16 14:11  
I am extremely agree with you. Absolutely fabulous statement.
43. 2007-04-16 14:51  
I could not AGREE MORE with you.
Long live the golden years.

44. 2007-04-16 16:37  
45. 2007-04-16 21:06  
is it true that women age faster then men?
46. 2007-04-17 13:48  
age is just a number ..of course to the young ciku or the not-so-deep-ones, youth is equivalent to how hot or sexy one can be ....but to the enlighthened ones ...I think maturity, the way one carries himself and the way one converse can be much sexier than just a scrap of younger skin or lump of muscles....
47. 2007-04-17 18:29  
Of course "beauty" is attractive, but as you read in many Asian profiles it is the heart that counts. U can sometimes read the heart in the eyes but never in the face or body. Far better to be with someone who loves you rather than someone who loves his own reflection.
48. 2007-04-17 18:36  
stop fooling yourselves!

if you are old and gay and go to Towel Club - you all think you will get lucky?!?

49. 2007-04-17 23:59  
re: old and gay at Towel Club.

People find all sorts attractive - perhaps Towel Club is just not the venue for older guys; you don't go to Zara for your groceries.

If you google on Silver Daddies there's a whole community of younger for older and vice versa out there.

NB: I am not a member of this community, fyi.
50. 2007-04-20 10:27  
I don't know who you're talking about when you talk about "gay men" or the "gay community", but I'm guessing you are referring to that which is visible.

I don't know how things are in other cities, but research shows that here in Melbourne, only around 10% of homosexuals engage with the gay scene and gay media on a regular basis. This means that what is visible is just the tip of a much bigger iceberg. I suspect that the generalisations you are making that (superficially at least) point to a certain superficiality in gay men, are all tip and no iceberg.

I suspect that in fact, the majority of gay men are well adjusted to the ordinary processes of life, well adapted to advancing years, find it possible to survive with 1.5 skin care products and have learned how to hold their stomachs in.

As a proud and random sample of one, I am happy to exhibit all those traits :-)
51. 2007-04-20 21:53  
I find the stories and post of these "old" men turning thirty and forty amusing. I never felt I was getting old until I turned sixty-five and retired. I was surprised when my getting old became a problem. I always thought of age as a tribute to ones ability to survive. Quite frankly in my younger years I had little patience with those that feared getting old. I was fortunate to have planned well for the "Golden" years, but I would swap all the money for being twenty-six again any day of the week. I find I have nothing in common with the younger crowd that are at a time in life where the latest movie, singer, celebrity, clothing, and club take center stage in their lives. The middle age are to wrapped up in their careers and obtaining more material goods to have time for anything else. The old tend to never want to venture off memory lane. I find now when faced with long term plans I have to stop and think will I even live that long and that is a drag. What good is it to have the money to hop a plane tomorrow for Europe, Asia, or the Middle East if when you arrive you do not feel like getting out to enjoy the sights. I think many will be surprised that having sex is not the real problem. Quite frankly I have as much or more sex now than ever. There are lots of good looking professional men that prefer the company of a safe, mature older man with class. I am thankful I did not waste the best years of my life worrying about the worst years of my life.
52. 2007-04-21 22:45  
Alvin you're SUPER!!!!
53. 2007-04-22 12:57  
fairy godmum alvin,
insecurity is a state of mind...maybe an indulgence in BUDDHISM may help.

crossroad (still crossing)

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