07/10/2014 11:53 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why Do So Many Hot Young Gay Celebrities Go After Older Men?


When we made up our list of the The Hottest Intergenerational Gay Celebrity Couples we thought we'd get a handful. We got 14 instead, including movie star Matt Bomer, Olympic diver Tom Daley, and fashion icon Tom Ford. We probably could have gotten more but we stopped looking.

This got us thinking -- why are there so many hot young things going after the older and wiser?

Take Matt Bomer, for example. Actually, you can't. He's taken. By an older gentleman. Now, presumably, Matt Bomer, one of the sexiest men alive, could have anyone, anywhere at any time (hands up for volunteers!). Why give up the Bachanalia for an older bachelor?

Typically when you see somebody with a trifecta of blessings -- youth, wealth and fame -- you're going to see them either crawling out of a bottle or out from under a lot of bodies. But that is not the case with many gay celebrities. It's not just that they've settled down; it's that they've settled down with somebody from another generation. Why?

Part of the answer lay in the broader cultural trends in gay male life. We've been fighting for, and winning the right to the most fundamental aspects of traditional, stable life -- marriage and adoption. There's no question that gay males have settled down in a way no one would have guessed in the '70s and '80s. Bath houses? Out. Circuit parties? Out. Hookups? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Here's another sign of the times: I often get letters to my sex advice column from well-endowed guys complaining that people just want them for their parts. Here's an example.

The point is that our approach to dating and relationships has completely changed in the last decade -- into something that is utterly traditional and conservative: Orderly, respectful and mature. Into this mix, a thinking, sensitive soul -- no matter how rich, beautiful or famous -- is at some level manifesting the greater culture's emphasis on the search for peace and stability. And who better to give them emotional maturity than a stable older guy?

There is also the "My tomatos are more important than your career" attitude that the older have toward younger celebrities. Sandra Berhnhardt illuminated this for me a while ago when I interviewed her for a magazine. She talked about the joys of living with an older woman. "She just didn't buy into the Hollywood bullshit," she said. "I'd come home and tell her the most amazing news on a new contract and she'd interrupt by saying something like, "You should see the new heirloom tomatoes I planted in the garden!" She truly believes her tomatoes are more interesting than my career. That keeps me sooo grounded."

It's not uncommon to see lesbian (Ellen and Portia) or straight female celebrities with older partners, but I have to admit our eyebrows raised when we saw the high number of intergenerational gay male couples in our list. Now, whether there's always been this many or that it's simply easier to find them on the internet today is anybody's guess. Either way, it's a wonderful thing on a number of fronts: It's fun to see broader cultural trends reflected in the fame circuit and inspiring to see couples breaking through the ageism that fogs our community. But mostly, it's just terrific to see love expressed in uncommon ways.

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