That’s a title which could mean quite a lot of things which sort of reflects the reality behind age:
At 15 and 16, anyone 20 and over is seen as ‘old’;
At 20, thirty seems ancient;
By the time people get to 30, the dreaded 40, at which life is supposed to begin, looks wizened;
By 40, retirement at 60 or 65 starts to look pretty ancient, a bit threatening but also a promise of a more relaxing life;
And by 70 and over, well !!! That’s where I’m at and 90 looks pretty ancient.
All of which adds up to the fact that age is relative, age is as old as you feel, aging takes place emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and socially as well as physically, and at each of Shakespeare’s ‘seven ages of man’, there are plusses as well as minuses, whatever one’s circumstances.
So why these thoughts?
Well, quite a lot of this web site is developed for guys coming out. Generally, these are in the ‘younger’ category although it’s not all that unusual for some one well over 40 to be facing up to the challenges involved in coming out.
So this page is largely for the older, more mature age groups.
Many gays do have different lives from straights for the simple fact that they don’t develop families around themselves with their own children and grandchildren. In their older and mature years, then, there tend to be fewer close family members who form an important (if not always the pleasantest) part of social life. For gays, that continuing thread of family tends to be replaced with long term lovers, friendships and newer acquaintances. (A useful thought here is ‘the sooner you make new friends, the sooner you'll have old friends’.)
Plusses and minuses again. Many of us know a number of older gays who are living happy, contented and useful lives, some making a variety of contributions to society in many different ways and all with wide and extensive networks of friends and often family as well. Being free of the responsibilities of supporting children and worrying about grandchildren leaves them free to choose other roles in society.
There is also a smattering of anecdotal evidence that some older gays find life more challenging than straights in a similar age range. You know the sort of thing; `...A friend of mine knows an old guy who's gay and...' ...(semi/horror story follows). There is even a bit of evidence from some limited research which has been done that the people delivering services to the elderly have very few clues about any special needs of gays and some even show a huge lack of sensitivity in the way they talk to gays.
Even so, this is hardly enough evidence to start developing a major resource on this web site for elderly, mature gays.
SO - this page is an invitation to older gays generally who have suggestions or ideas of what we could include on the site which would interest them. It is also an invitation to those older gays in the community who have problems as they mature that they can tell us about and which we may be able to do something positive about.
It may well be that there's not much interest among elderly gays in web sites which would be just fine. Even so, if that is the case, it would be valuable to us if you could let us know that that is the case. Anything you send us will be kept strictly confidential.
What is `old' and `elderly' ? If anyone, you or someone you know, is around retirement age, its quite possible `public officials' `health professionals, superannuation people, social welfare employees and so on' will think of you or your acquaintance(s) as (officially) old. So, however young you feel inside and however efficiently you're working physically, for the sake of this page, if retirement is close or already being enjoyed, it's likely there will be others who will look upon you as `elderly' or `old'.
If you do have any experiences of a lack of sensitivity towards older gays or, worse, of a total lack of understanding of your needs, do feel free to tell us. That way we can start to build up a picture of the situation to use as the basis of working out an effective approach to improving things.
And, if you are contacting us, it would help any research we develop if you could indicate if you fit in the age groups 40 to 50, 50 to 60, 60 to 70, 70 to 80, and 80 plus.