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Question
Posted by: Worried | 2008/05/30

Growing old

Gay man, 32, in a I-suppose-its-OK relationship, good job, supportive family and all round I suppose an OK life. I'm content. But I am very worried and scared of growing old as a gay man. i won't have kids to support me or to look after me, my current partner most definitely won't be around, I see myself looking old and wrinkled, lonely, sad, depressed. Even at my age I don't feel part of the community or of gay life - if I ever go into a club the young ones look at me as if they're saying "Go home uncle", everything is about how you look, how rich you are, how young you are. Most straight people have children - most of us don't. I just see gloom and doom ahead especially since I don't earn a lot and never will so I can't retire to some little village and live comfortably, or travel or start painting or playing bridge like rich people can and most of friends are (its sad and I'm sorry to say this but true in many instances) also only talk about younger guys, they talk of men as "boys" and how beautiful younger guys are. And I ask myself, is this all there is, is this what its about? OK I do have depression and am on treatment but sometimes I just feel so gloomy, I just can't imagine being the old moffie oom in the local old-age home where everyone gossips and slowly vegetates, always hoping for a visit from their children (except I won't have any). And at the same time I also detest my friends and older guys who try so hard to look younger than they are, when I see an older guy who tints his hair I want to run away a mile just to get away from him, that looks so silly and ridiculous that I cringe. So where do old gay people go? What becomes of them? Who looks after them? Who even cares about them? They also have financial problems I am sure and I'd rather end it than eat tinned dog food and be alone and trying to live in my memories and in the past. And the present - which will be the past I'll be looking back at - isn't so great anyway. I'm content like I said but a long way from happy. Is this all there is? Please I hope there's more because I feel despondent and there's doesn't seem much hope of the sky opening up and my life taking a different course.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageGay, lesbian and bisexual expert

Hi to you Worried, welcome to the forum and thanks for posting.

Your post contains a few truisms, such as queer culture's general emphasis on youth and bodiliness, but you do seem to be focused on negative dynamics.

I agree that we all focus on the coming out process and very little is said or written about another equally important process, often referred to as "getting out" - the process of many gay men realising that, due to their age, they no longer feel comfortable or part of some aspects of the gay 'scene'. They may feel uncomfortable in gay social spaces where youth is over-valued, for example. The process often over-laps what some call the proverbial mid-life crisis and can exacerbate feelings of depression, worthlessness and for many, a profound sense of loss. Many single men lose hope of meeting their ideal partner, for example. It is possible that men who have over-valued their belonging to the gay cultural collective and have bought into notions of youth and bodiliness, at the expense of nurturing themselves and forming a positive sense of self, could be most affected.

Perhaps the answer lies in doing an objective audit of where you're at in your life at present, and where you'd like to be. Age brings experience and valuable insights, for example, and how do we use these to make our lives more meaningful? We can't control or determine the future but we can control the present, and we can bring about changes in our current lives that will contribute positively to our future. Live in the now by finding as much meaning in your life as you possibly can and invest in your own nurturance and growth as much as you can. If your friends are stuck in a space that doesn't work for you, make it a mission to find a few new friends you have more in common with. If there are hassles in your current relationship, address these. If you haven't looked at financial planning for the future, make a point of doing so.

But most importantly, celebrate who you are right now. Form a good, healthy and nurturing relationship with yourself. It is possible that your sense of discontent is not about the future but is about how you feel about yourself right now. So take some action to remedy this. You're quite right - the sky is not likely to open up to bring about major change in your life, only you can make the necessary changes.

Please keep posting, Worried, and let us know how you're doing.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Jack Horner | 2008/05/30

what is it with this f...ck wit?

Reply to Jack Horner
Posted by: Rusta | 2008/05/30

<<<<<<<<< CONTENT DELETED - POSTED BY A SICK IDIOT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Reply to Rusta
Posted by: Jack Horner | 2008/05/30

damn straight, i mean right, oohh that could also have a double meaning, lets just say you are so correct in your thinking, is that PC enough? have a good week end

Reply to Jack Horner
Posted by: LONEWOLF | 2008/05/30

At least us gay people have a sense of humour. Enjoy the weekend. i'm off

Reply to LONEWOLF
Posted by: Jack Horner | 2008/05/30

yeah guys , was rude hijacking this post, but it did make the impending outcome of life a little lighter....could make a bloody funny movie......

Reply to Jack Horner
Posted by: Gareth | 2008/05/30

Hehe, Jack Horner, we can't all be Dame Edna's, hehehe but we can sure try...
Sorry Worried, for hijacking your post...

Reply to Gareth
Posted by: LONEWOLF | 2008/05/30

Yeah, I can think of a few with purple rinses and pearls. The goings-on in there would probably quite often feature in the tabloid press.

Reply to LONEWOLF
Posted by: Jack Horner | 2008/05/30

do you think purple rinses and horn rimmed glasses would be in order?? lol ...it is a funny picture i now have in my mind of a retirement home....

Reply to Jack Horner
Posted by: LONEWOLF | 2008/05/30

Hi Gareth. It could be a scream; imagine people loosing their hearing aids in the steam; the old queens bitching about the food and curtains; it goes on and on. This sound like a joke, but maybe it is something that should be looked into.

Hi Deeve. You have the right attitude. One should take reponsibility for your own well being as well.

Keep well

Reply to LONEWOLF
Posted by: Deeve | 2008/05/30

Hi Worried, Yes your 'painting' sounds very scary, but as Gareth says, it's really all up to YOU. Why do you already mention that your current boyfriend won't be around? Are you already hanging around in circumstances that aren't making you happy? Your friends, by the sounds of things, are also not doing a stitch for your self esteem. Tell me, do you have any older friends..? Have you not thought about increasing your circle of friends...and I mean proper friends - people that phone, and pop in to see YOU, without you asking them to come around? I'm not talking about acquaintances, or flavour of the week Buddies, or -|- buddies!
I'm way older than you, and yes, I have thought about all that you've mentioned, BUT, I'm bloody determined not to let things go that way. I constantly work on my circle of friendship...and some are older than me, and others younger. Yes, I do have kids, but there's no guarantee these days that they will stay in SA!
One other HUGE food for thought...I look way younger these days than photo's of me 10 years ago! I can only think it's because of MY outlook and attitude. 10 years ago i was still married, hated life, and felt the same as you about my future. See how things have changed for me.
Cheer up pal, and start by changing things around you. You will never be happy if you believe that ALLl Gay Guys live the 'Gay stereo type lifestyle'. What about the boy next door types, that live well away from the limelight...? I'm certainly one of them...so sorry fellow, not everyone is heading the way you say! Work on your self image/self esteem, and eradicate those negative thoughts, and turn them into possitive ones. Soon you will see a whole new you...and the depression will also not be much of a factor either...I promise. All this negativity does nothing for you wellbeing. Start changing things today! Regards

Reply to Deeve
Posted by: Gareth | 2008/05/30

Hehehe, Lonewolf, I have images of old age homes with steamrooms, darkrooms, wild parties - with place enough for walkers, loads of fabulous clothes, and free botox and drugs, hehehe

Reply to Gareth
Posted by: LONEWOLF | 2008/05/30

I think growing old is a curse word in the gay community. The norm leans towards young, healthy and attractive. That of course applies to the straight community as well. The media as a whole propagate this norm as the acceptable and do not give proper attention to other attributes of people that are similarly important.

To be honest, I dread it. Imagine I have to go and live in an old age home full of old tannies and ooms. The option of suicide sounds very attractive indeed. So what are the options? Firstly work on building a healthy long term relationship that would at least double the income and savings for old age. Two work on healthy support groups, i.e. friends and relatives that can help. When you are 20 or 30 it seems so very far away. After 40, it really hit home and you realize it is there. Another thing of course is to deal with yourself and learn to be happy with who you are, your limitations and good points. One has to learn very early in life to be self-sufficient in certain aspects as well. This is not the physical part, but being able to face reality and deal with it.

Another thought that came to mind is the establishment of old age homes (retirement villages) specifically aimed at the gay community. Wouldn’t that be fun? Just an idea.

Reply to LONEWOLF
Posted by: Gareth | 2008/05/30

Worried, what you say here is totally understandable and probably quite valid. But I want to ask you this, why are you allowing these worries to make you depressed. What does it serve you to worry about things far ahead in future, that you cannot change one inch by worrying about them? You really are still young, barely out of your twenties. You have many many more years to look forward to. And how do you know at all that you will end up the way that you described now? You don't! And thinking about that like that, will just demotivate you even more, and you know what? If that is the way you think, you will probably create it that way and end up that way. You really do not know what lies ahead for you. Who is to say you might not in a few years time meet a wonderful loving guy, with money and kids that adore you, and then you might end up quite rich with "kids" to look after you. This is exactly as likely of happening as what you described is of happening. You cannot know what lie ahead for you.
More importantly, you need to start living in today, for today. You, and only you are going to be with yourself forever so it is no one else's responsibility to make you happy, but you. And only you can change your unhappiness to happiness. If you are not happy with the way things are now, then change them. If you are not happy in your relationship, work on the things you are unhappy about, and create your happiness. Otherwise move on to what makes you happy. And your career, you are still able and young enough to do whatever you want with your life. My one ex completely changed his career at 35 or somewhere, went back to university and got another degree, and today have his doctorate in that field. It is totally possible, it all depends on you and what you want. And you know what, the young guys do not think, go home "omie", in the club. Most of them look up to us older guys, because you know what, we are ALL going to get older, no matter how young and fabulous we are today. And again, my friend, if you do feel you look like an old omie, you can also again do something about that today. Make some changes. A different haircut and some new clothes does a hell of a lot for your self image. And join a gym, or if you can't afford to, start running and doing some push-ups and stuff at home. YOU make the change you want to see. And being active is hella good for relieving stress and clearing your head. And you will make heads turn.
It really all depends on you. Sitting moping about it won't change a thing, in fact, it will just worsen things. So work with a plan, and live for today only.
You can do it. Best of luck buddy

Reply to Gareth
Posted by: anon-i-mouse | 2008/05/30

don't know what the answer is really, i often wonder what it would be like getting old on your own, always see older gay guys on their own and think how lonely it must be...there are loads of older guys at rec room etc looking for company, they generally look miserable and no one wants to go near them........

Reply to anon-i-mouse
Posted by: Worried | 2008/05/30

Sorry that I wrote so much, I didn't realise till I posted it how much I'd written.

Reply to Worried

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