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The other morning I jumped out of bed with my usual peppiness. My feet hit the floor as I grabbed my jeans which were lying at the foot of my bed. As I have done thousands of times, I placed one leg into them and then quickly hopped as I started to pull them up. This required the simultaneous dropping of my other leg into its opening, as I balanced precariously on the first leg which wasn’t completely positioned correctly. It sounds like it is an Impossible Engineering project. Then one of countless crashes occurred, me hitting the edge of my dresser as the floor came at me at warp speed. I fell. Ow! Yet another Ow. Crashes have become the new norm. As a younger man, I would have the agility of a Cirque de Solei contortionist and within a second, both feet would be back on the floor as I cheerfully pulled my pants up perfectly. Ta Da! I’m not sure why over the passing years I have been determined to have this ritual stay firmly intact. I guess it seemed the jock thing to do as I reflected back on my years of bodybuilding and being a gym rat. I liked being that. It still gives me more pleasure than anything else I have ever done.
I am one of the few Personal Trainers who stayed in that business long after college age passed me by. It has been 35 years and I still continue to train clients. But in these past few years I’ve noticed a progressive change. Now perhaps you read the title of this rant and see that I am 62. “OF COURSE things will have changed!” you say. And as a somewhat introspective person, I see that my body has reflected those years. But like many gay men, my mind is still that of a younger man that continues to imagine: lifting very heavy weights, dancing on boxes at clubs on a Saturday night, shopping in a mall and having the irresistible pull to check out this year’s Abercrombie and Fitch clothes. It is hard to fight the impulse to jump back into all that. But as I pass myself in a mall mirror I am startled. Who is that? Oh right, me. No A & F clothes today.
And yet I know who I am. I am a happy 62 year-old guy who refuses to let society, or anyone for that matter, dictate who I am going to be. My body at times may argue the point with me, but I refuse to give in to the ageist insistence that I ‘act my age’. As older gay men, what is our age really? I think of guys my age who are more sedentary, guys that use comfort food to replace their desire to stay fit, guys that imbibe in multiple cocktails at a bar who have a bit of resentment as they watch the attractive younger guys getting all the attention. That is what I see in my older friends. It’s as if they gave up. They allowed their age to swallow them up, and now they find comfort in their inevitable blending into the scenery. They accept that they will become invisible; and that invisibility blankets them like a new fallen snow.
To be honest, some things are not great as you age. The stiffness of joints, forgetting where you put something just ten minutes ago, finding you cannot read a food label at a supermarket without your reading glasses and dammit, you brought your TV watching glasses by accident. Fun stuff. But maybe the worst is that we let society tell us that there are some things we simply should not do when we get to our senior years. How dare we say hello to a younger gay guy at a bar! “Not interested” he calls back, as he quickly walks away. I just wanted to say hi because he was standing next to me at the bar. I wasn’t trying to pick him up. And how dare we ask a younger guy at the gym if we can work-in with him on a piece of equipment. Their look says “Go home Grandpa! You don’t belong here!” Sigh. But I, just as you, have every right to be where we want to be and to be WHO we want to be. If other people don’t like that, well, f**k them. They don’t live our lives. They don’t have any say about who we are going to choose to be.
I am a gay man. I am a 62 year-old gay man. I am proudly a 62 year-old bald gay man who has emerged from the Aids Epidemic (and so far the Covid-19 pandemic) somewhat unscathed. But I am certainly NOT invisible. Nor shall I ever become that because it really is a mind-set. I will not let society alter that no matter how much resistance I encounter. Other people do not control our aging process. Only you can decide what age you are within and what you want to show to the world. I do not fight being 62. If asked my age, I proudly state it. But what I do fight, what I will always fight, is that invisibility. Do Not Go Softly Into That Good Night, no, rail against it and allow yourself to find the adventurous man that is still inside you. The older gay community is growing as more reach our senior years and soon we will be the majority of LGBTQ people. We cannot melt into the background and become invisible, we need to fight and stay relevant and foremost as the decade of the 2020’s continue. I will continue to be an active participant in the senior LGBTQ community. I believe the most exciting and rewarding years are still ahead. Nothing can stop me in my quest for a full, vibrant life in the coming decades. Will you join me?
Joey Hernandez is the host of “An Older Guy Gay Show” now in its fifth season. “The Award-Nominated LGBTQ Podcast is aimed toward 40+ guys or anyone who enjoys a show that discusses older gay life and interests. Just because we are further along in age, it doesn’t mean our gay life has to be limited or boring. We are not invisible! We are the largest growing segment of gay individuals, so let’s keep our community vibrant!
Please join host Joey Hernandez as we talk and laugh about the trials and tribulations of growing older, sex, health, fitness, tv and films, personal stories and many other topics.”
Listen to episodes of “An Older Gay Guy Show” HERE
And our interview on “An Older Gay Guy Show below!
And on his YouTube Channel HERE
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