Once you get to thirty years old you might as well be dead.... That's the saying isn't it? At least it is in the gay world. Thirty is apparently the equivalent to being a sixty year old straight person. So at the age of twenty eight I am actually fifty six in gay years. Looking good for an old bird aren't I?
Of course I think it's all rather ridiculous. In my experience life is getting better as I get older, so I'm expecting to not be past it by the time I reach thirty. Sadly on the gay scene there is an obsession with youth, good looks, large appendages and being skinny. I don't buy into it at all but I have been on the receiving end of such silliness.
I used to be a regular user of Grindr, the 'social networking' app that can be used on smart phones. For those not familiar with Grindr, it is a GPS based application that locks on to your location and lists all of the gay guys in the vicinity who are also using it. Its main function seems to be for men to hook up with other men. Not everyone on Grindr wants to meet for sex though, and personally I used Grindr because I wanted to meet someone decent for potential friendship and whatever may stem from that (I actually met my boyfriend on Grindr, so it worked). Before I met my partner I would trawl through the profiles of the various guys on Grindr, discounting them for being too young or for having too much of an attitude problem when I began to notice a pattern in what the guys were writing on their profiles. "NO OVER 30'S!!!" was an incredibly common statement, as if being over thirty years old meant that you are over the hill; no longer desirable.
Logging on to my Gaydar and Fitlads profiles (yes, I was a serial offender on the gay 'dating' sites) I discovered that it was the same across the board. The general consensus was that being thirty was too old, with some guys even stating that twenty five was old! At that point I decided I was going to chat to a younger guy on Grindr to see what he said to someone edging closer to thirty years old flirting with him. I'll admit that I wasn't expecting the response I received. The retort was a tirade of abuse about how he was fed up of old people trying to flirt with him, that he specifically requests that only young and attractive people chat to him, and that at the age of twenty eight I am "too damn old". I laughed and then realised I had been blocked by this guy. In one way it's an amusing tale but really it's beyond ridiculous.
Talking to a friend over coffee, I asked him about his experiences of getting older in the gay world. He explained to me that the thing he finds interesting and somewhat amusing is the men who lie about their age. This is another thing that is common on gay internet sites and mobile phone applications; people saying that they are much younger than they are, even when it is quite clear from their profile photo that they are lying. Why do it? Surely they're going to be found out at some point if they ever meet up with someone from the same site. I think that it's because there is so much prejudice and discrimination against older guys on the gay scene that they are scared or too embarrassed to reveal their true age.
A close friend of mine joined Grindr at the age of fifty five. Upon looking at his profile I noticed that almost everything he had written was untrue, with the exception being that his ethnicity was 'white'. He'd said he was taller and slimmer than he was, and he had put his age as five years younger than he actually was. I had to ask him why. My friend said that he had always lied about his age as it gives him more of a chance with men. I challenged that but the fact was my friend liked guys who were in their 20's and felt that if he appeared a bit younger he would increase his chances. I guess it's easy to hide behind an online profile because you can be whoever you want to be, but out there on the open scene it can be quite different.
Growing old disgracefully is not something I find attractive. Perhaps that is one prejudice that I have. I think it's important to have fun and enjoy life, but I also believe in showing an amount of class and acting your age. If you venture on to any gay scene you will find a number of older men behaving like they are still twenty years old. I recall one guy in particular who is at least sixty years old but wears tight and revealing vests and jeans, and behaves in the outrageous way that someone more than half his age would. I must admit that part of me finds that a bit sad. I think the man should act his age instead of trying to keep up with all of the younger guys. But again, is that down to my prejudice? Other older men consume vast amounts of alcohol and letch over the hot young chickens when they are old enough to be their grandfather. I think it's part of the darker side of the scene but maybe I am wrong. Perhaps I shouldn't be judgemental. After all, the majority aren't doing any harm; they're simply having a good time.
Whatever my views and your thoughts are on this subject, growing old gay can be tough. Turning thirty doesn't mean your life is over though. My boyfriend that I met on Grindr is fifty three, and he's still got it!