"You’re too old to be on the scene" By Gareth Johnson | @GTVlondon There’s a surprisingly complex range of emotions that hit you when your (younger) editor emails you and says: “I’m looking for an article on older gay men on the scene – you seem like the obvious person to write it.” This year I will turn 43. I found a helpful online conversion tool that could tell me that being 42 is equivalent to 181 dog years. There didn’t seem to be a converter that could tell me what that is in gay years – it’s probably off the chart. I remember when I was living in Melbourne in my mid 20s, one of my favourite bars was the Xchange on Commercial Road in South Yarra. In my head I was looking for a boyfriend, but although I was trying to project a cool and sophisticated persona, inwardly I was lacking confidence and insecure about everything. While I was at the bar ordering drinks, bursting through the door came a group of middle-aged gays – they must have been at least over thirty years old – the latest Britney track was pounding: “Oooh I love this!” said the ringleader of the middle-aged gays, throwing his arms above his head and nailing the lyrics. “How tragic,” I said to my friend next to me, making a silent vow that when I got as old as that I would most certainly not be in gay clubs singing along to Britney tracks. The other day I was in a gay club in London, singing along to a Britney track. I have absolutely no doubt that there were young guys standing at the bar, rolling their eyes at each other as they passed judgement on me: “T-ra-gic!” *sing-song-disdainful-voice* The gay scene is clearly evolving and there are variations on what that looks like depending on where you live. However it’s a fairly universal experience that the older you get, the harder it is to feel that you know everything; the harder it is to feel confident that you’re at the top of your game; the harder it is to feel that people will be impressed when you take your shirt off. For our recent Youth issue (issue #138), FS held a couple of focus groups with young gay men to talk about being gay and everything that goes with that. One of the discussion topics was “what do you think of older gay men?” Here’s some of my favourite comments that the participants made: James: “Young people can learn a lot from older guys, as long as they have the confidence to tell them to sod off if they get creepy.” James (again): “Older guys can obviously be very sexy – up to a certain age.” Aaron: “I know a lot of people find them creepy, but I always think that’s gonna be me one day, clinging to my youth.” Nathan: “Most older guys that I’ve encountered have only one thing on their mind...” I don’t want to get all Bianca Del Rio on your asses, but... “Really, bitch?” When you’re my age, there is nothing more annoying than some hot young guy who thinks that the world revolves around him. Unless you’re sleeping with him – then the world clearly does revolve around him. When you’re younger, there is nothing more annoying than older guys whose best days are clearly behind them, behaving as if they know everything and deserve some kind of respect. Unless they’re paying for your drinks – then you’re quite happy to agree with whatever it is they’re talking about (usually musicals and old movies that you’ve never heard of). One of the good things about getting older is that you do get a bit more fearless. You start to realise that you actually don’t need to care what other people think about you – that’s their business (I think I’m quoting RuPaul on that). You also start to realise that you’re actually a bit of a catch. Your underwear modelling days may be behind you, and your online dating profile may have had a bit of post-production, but you know how to have a good time. You know how to relax and really enjoy having sex; you can go out for dinner on a date and have interesting and funny conversations; you can pretty much find something in common with anyone you meet because you’ve experienced a lot of stuff and been to a lot of different places. These days I’m not so bothered about going to gay bars to find a boyfriend. I’m okay with being single. I really just want to go out to bars to have a laugh with my friends – to drink, to dance, to sing along to Britney songs. You wanna hot body? You wanna Bugatti? You wanna Maserati? You better work, bitch! See you on the dance floor, kids. Is the scene not for you? GMFA has a website with links to hundreds of social groups and sports clubs. If you’re interested in finding your nearest gay football club or joining a walking club then visit www.gmfa.org.uk/the-guide. GMFA/HERO social groups Are you bored of going down the pub or of staying home all the time? Do you want to get out and meet new people with shared interests? GMFA’s parent organisation HERO runs a number of social groups, open to LGBT Londoners. For more information, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/socialgroups.