Generations Across: Why Stop Love Ageism

As a wife with a husband 10 years my elder, I definitely hear this article--if from the hetero perspective. Even from the hetero perspective, there's already ageism. Well, I couldn't fall in love with that person because of their age. Our sexual and love choices include many factors, including age.

But what about gay couples where one partner is older? How do both hetero couples respond to that and how can the gay community be more accepting? How can we all be more accepting to couples that might be different to our own dynamics? JacoPhillip Crous reports.

* * *

“The sex is more imaginative; 
 it feels more sensitive
 and this allows us to make love 
 with a greater degree of altruism.”

– James*, 32, 
 partner of twelve years to Mark*, 54.

Seen here, Juan Hidalgo’s photograph of two men kissing made a very controversial impression early in 2012. I was discussing it with a colleague when he brought to my attention the age difference between the two men in the photograph.

Suddenly many conversations rushed into my mind. I hurriedly had to nip our deliberation in the bud and proceeded to rifle through the narratives of couples who have crossed the generation divide, sharing with me so many of their experiences, viewpoints, and insights.

What is Ageism?

Ageism is prejudice and/or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age. In gay communities around the world, ageism is more than problematic.

It constrains mens' masculine development, is caustic to our shared identity in manhood, and more importantly, consumptive of our sense of gay community. Some gay couples' love and lust for one another bridge across their generation gap. Those couples have a very good vantage point to observe gay mens' prejudices and gay social discrimination around aging and generation cohorts.

Let's not be ageist with love

William*, as a young gay man of 24, now partner of five years to John* who caricatures himself “a mature child of 40”, recalls how, while he was still just dating John, gay friends would repeatedly refer to him as “the young boy”. William was once very upset at one of John’s peer friends referring to him as “some fresh young thing”. I remember John commenting while the two of them scooched closer together on the couch: “As if Will was going to go off by a certain date.” It may just be the way gay men talk, but a stereotype is at its best offensive, and even more so when we consider that in circumstances such as these it comes from those who are opposed to themselves being stereotyped in any way.

James, 32, and Mark, 54, have been committed to each other for more than twelve years, yet whenever they step out of their circle, the age gap in their relationship opens a Pandora’s box of prejudices. James once remarked that, “the majority of older gay men we meet, treat me as some vapid nymph only after an easy ride (no pun intended), while Mark receives patronizing, congratulatory pats on the back as if he has won me as first prize in a pissing contest . . . younger guys usually react with waves of incredulity and panic.” It saddens me to have to agree with Mark when he says that the majority of young gay men are not interested in what older gay generations have to contribute.

It is the older generations that fought, sweat, tears, and blood for the acceptance and rights many younger generations now take for granted. “My generation made a gay reality possible,” points out Paul, 62, now in the sixth year of partnership with Peter, 38. Everyone over forty now has lived before and during the AIDS epidemic. Older generations were, in that context, also the pioneers of safe sex. “Safe sex, in some ways, made us look for other sexual practices” says Paul, Peter following quick with, “I learned that from Paul . . . there is so much more we can do than just fuck.” Paul takes heart that there are still some young men who value the traditions that provided a community in the first place, that “there are still young men out there who appreciate our minds and our sex.”

The couples I have had the pleasure of knowing, as diverse as you can imagine, strike accord on one very pertinent characteristic. Sex is experienced by both partners to be more imaginative. It is felt to be more sensitive and given with a greater degree of altruism. I believe that this is a result of mentorship these sexual partners share and enjoy. It's driven by the emotional satisfaction we all gain from teaching our beloved and being taught by our lovers.

Let's consider the historical context

The tradition of mentors in homosocial communities reaches far back into ancient Hellenic and Roman cultures, and likely beyond. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this dynamic raises its head, so to speak, in contemporary homosexual culture.

Because many gay men leave home without having been taught the finer things, like which linen to buy, which crystal to have, how to arrange flowers, choose a colour scheme, or how to throw a dinner party, these things and more are considered community things to be learnt from gay communion.

As homosexuals, we have to recognise that there are traditions that hold our global gay community together. This recognition on the side of the elder is perhaps the one thing that most separates the generations in gay living today. This sense of mentorship in gay culture is most pronounced in couples were there is a pronounced age difference between partners.

Let's nurture all loving, consensual relationships

Nurturing a relationship across such a generational gap is no matter of course though. The double prejudice suffered by these gay couples is a near active dissuasion. Not only do these men have to overcome the hegemonic disdain for their commitment and relationships. They also face prejudgement from within the gay community over their partnerships. Aron, 45, has been in a relationship with Tom, 27, for little over two years now and says to me, “I see it, our relationship... as a mirror image of the same condescension suffered by interracial couples.” Now, before your mind opens a whole other can of worms, this statement sharply focuses the feeling of discrimination these gay couples experience.

We should not perpetuate terms of endearment. Our love for our partners, if not revered, should at least be respected. Union in partnership, our emotional commitment, our sense of gay community, is in the fact that we love and choose to partner with someone of the same sex. As valid and enriching as these exemplary relationships are to the men in them, so too they are to gay community.

GetLusty provides recognition and support to all couples. If you would like to know more on a specific topic or have a particular question in need of an answer, GetLusty resources are enriching the lives of people in committed relationships around the world and you are welcome to subscribe. Have your comments and queries tackled by the professional talent (like me!) contributing to GetLusty.

I will share more gay coupling experiences with you next week on Get Lusty. Coupling: Trust clouts Fear, will include my personal experiences when I engaged with the coupling guidance process together with my ‘husband’ of over eight years.

Get the lust on for your lover, and share the joy and learning from it with the lovers of the world.

Do It well; do It safe.
*For ethical privacy all person names are given as nom de guerre

Though he's a new writer, we're already extremely excited about JacoPhillip. Our resident advisor on gay long-term relationships, JacoPhillip Crous is also known as Jacsman.

He studies & consults on ecstatic & intimate psycho-sexual health & development, promoting & improving male2male dialogue that furthers understanding of masculine sexuality and MSM relationships. A sex educator, JacoPhillip Crous studies about and consults around male psycho-sexual self-development phenomena, behaviours, experiences and knowledgeablity. Find out more about JacoPhillip at: Also subscribe on Facebook.
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